Airy the Canary posing by firetruck

The Jenkins Foundation - Airy the Canary Mascot Costume

airy the canary sticker logo

The Jenkins Foundation is sounding the alarm on carbon monoxide. The nonprofit organization was founded in memory of Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, who both lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning in a hotel room on April 16, 2013. The carbon monoxide came from a corroded pool heater exhaust system located below their room. The hotel had no carbon monoxide detection system to alert Daryl and Shirley of the life-threatening danger. The Jenkins Foundation exists to change the country’s safety codes and to educate the public on the dangers of carbon monoxide. Their canary mascot, Airy, has since taken flight as the Jenkins Foundation’s nonprofit mascot.


Why a Canary Mascot Costume?

Did you know that canaries were the original carbon monoxide detectors? Before carbon monoxide alarms existed, a particularly dangerous place to work was a coal mine. A scientist in the late 1800’s discovered that canaries could detect the deadly odorless gas. Coal mine workers routinely brought canaries with them to work to keep watch over the air. Canaries’ heroic history hatched Airy the Canary as the Jenkins Foundation’s official mascot. 

Airy the Canary with multiple children

Airy’s Positive Song

With the tragedies associated with carbon monoxide, it is not a happy subject. The bird mascot, Airy the Canary, sings a positive tune for the nonprofit organization. The bright and fluffy yellow canary mascot positively represents the Jenkins Foundation and serves as a symbol of hope and light for those negatively impacted by carbon monoxide.

Airy is very friendly and appeals to children the same way that animal mascots Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog do. By fostering a connection with kids, Airy the Canary successfully resonates the Jenkins Foundation’s mission with a younger audience. When Airy makes appearances at events, children always excitedly flock to the happy yellow bird costume!

Airy the Canary posing by firetruck

Chirping an Important Tune

The mission of the canary mascot ties to the educational portion of the foundation. The bird mascot costume is heavily used during National Fire Prevention Week, which is observed annually the week of October 9th. The Jenkins Foundation works with schools and fire departments to add in carbon monoxide awareness programming. They provide teachers with a four-step lesson plan and educational materials for their classrooms.

Building a Nest of Carbon Monoxide Awareness

Airy the Canary builds a nest of carbon monoxide awareness by making appearances in schools and at fire department open houses. The nonprofit mascot grabs the attention of event attendees and helps hand out carbon monoxide alarms. Airy also has his custom designed own logo that is printed on stickers.

Airy the Canary waving with a child
“One big question we had was ‘How do we make our message stick in kids’ minds so that they’ll remember it by the time they get home?’. We created stickers that we give to the kid that contain Airy’s logo on them. That way, the kids wear the stickers home and remember to talk to their parents about what they learned about carbon monoxide.”
airy the canary sticker logo
Kris Hauschildt
Founder​​ // The Jenkins Foundation
Airy the Canary hugging child
Airy the Canary waving

A Custom Mascot’s Impact on the Jenkin’s Foundation

Having Airy the Canary has allowed the foundation’s outreach and marketing efforts to take new flights and new heights. Since there is not a lot of carbon monoxide awareness in the country, a lot of places have gained interest in the Jenkins Foundation’s programming. Their custom mascot allows the nonprofit to gain greater attention, and aides both children and adults in better understanding the concept of carbon monoxide gas, something they can’t physically see or experience.

The Bird Mascot Gets Social

Airy flies around on the Jenkin’s Foundation social media promoting the nonprofit. The canary mascot gets attention on the organization’s website and on their Facebook page. Check out Airy the Canary on social media to learn more carbon monoxide!

Working with Olympus Mascots

The Jenkins Foundation nonprofit organization was a first-time mascot buyer and came to Olympus Mascots with no background or experience in the mascot design process. With over 45 years of experience, the Olympus Mascot sales team was able to help the Jenkins Foundation create their iconic Airy the Canary mascot costume.

Airy the Canary with a child holding a CO detector
“We had no experience with mascots before this and were not exactly sure what we wanted design-wise. Olympus Mascots’ step-by-step approach, attention to detail, and timely replies to our questions helped us to feel confident in our choices throughout the process. Overall, we are very pleased with Airy!”
airy the canary sticker logo
Kris Hauschildt
Founder​​ // The Jenkins Foundation

mascot Tips From The Jenkins Foundation

Tip 1

It gets hot inside of a mascot costume! To keep mascot performers cool, the Jenkins Foundation recommends installing an ice vest and a mascot fan.

Tip 2

Consider who you are interacting with in the costume when designing it. Airy interacts with a lot of children, so the bird costume was not intended to be too large.

Tip 3

Know how your costume functions- Airy’s bird wings originally contained openings for the performer’s hands. Kids were very observant of this detail, so the hand openings ended up getting sewn shut.

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