11/04/2014 09:07 EST | Updated 01/04/2015 05:59 EST

Zoé's teddy bear collection spreads joy around the globe

An 8-year-old girl from Quebec's Eastern Townships had a dying wish to have thousands of stuffed animals. Now, that wish is spreading joy around the world.   

Zoé Sallois-Bernard, 8, lost her battle to cancer last January — but not before her dream of being surrounded by teddy bears came true.

Her father, Marco Bernard, said his daughter expressed her wish the day before Christmas last year.

“She said, ‘Papa, for Christmas I would like to have thousands of stuffed animals,'” said Bernard, adding that Zoé always loved teddy bears.

Her parents posted her request on social media and Zoé’s wish went viral.

“We hoped to get 1,000 stuffed animals, but it got out of proportion,” Bernard said.

In the weeks that followed, Zoé received 25,000 stuffed animals.

Her mother, Catherine Sallois, says every one of them seemed to come with a story.

“One came from a little boy whose house caught fire, and all he had left was the toy.”

Sallois says when Zoé lost her battle to cancer last January, the community came to the family's aid once more — this time, to help find new homes for all those stuffed animals.

Sallois says the bears are now with children in Haiti, Guatemala, Africa and in a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

“It’s nice to see these kids with a smile from ear to ear — small children who have nothing, but have a little teddy bear. It's their small comfort, just like Zoé found with her stuffed animals," Sallois said.

"You learn through experiences like this that there is always something positive that emerges from even the most dramatic events."