Tough times bearable for kids

When kids find themselves traumatized, often something as simple as a teddy bear can provide some comfort.

To ensure needy kids have a teddy bear, students at Oak Harbor High School have been busy collecting the stuffed animals.

“They’re given to distressed children to give them comfort,” said Marissa Summers, a junior who is also the chairperson of the teddy bear drive.

Their efforts have been successful. In the past week, volunteers have collected more than 700 fuzzy bears from fellow classmates.

The 13 volunteers in the second-period leadership class venture to all rooms to gather the stuffed animals. They also track how many teddy bears each class donates. The winning class will enjoy a pizza party after the teddy bears are collected.

As volunteers collected the bears, they stuffed them into the display that lines the hallways of the school. Every variety of teddy bear was crammed into the cases: Christmas bears, Care Bears, Winnie the Pooh, and even a gigantic carnival bear were among the bears collected. In addition to the stuffed bears, several other animals were also donated. Scattered among the teddy bears, volunteers found a croaking frog, Smurfs and a platypus.

The bears will be presented to the Soroptimists during a January meeting.

The group will, in turn, hand out the bears to various organizations on the island that deal with children.

Barbara Saugen, a member of the Soroptimists, said the local Department of Health and Social Services, Whidbey General Hospital’s emergency room and the Oak Harbor Police Department will receive the donated animals. Any child those agencies encounter can receive a stuffed animal.

Saugen said the bears give stressed children something to hold onto during a trying time. She added that the bears become even more important during the holiday season.

She is also looking for other organizations, such as local fire departments, who could use the bears.

The Soroptimists held a teddy bear breakfast earlier in the month where around 100 to a 125 were gathered, Saugen said.

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