by Shannon O’Dell
According to The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, the state’s drug epidemic has caused more children than ever to be placed in foster care. Foster children are twice as more likely than veterans to be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That’s why the Media and Communications Club at West Virginia University at Parkersburg has organized a collection drive for stuffed animals to provide comfort to youth experiencing a hardship.
The drive began on March 4 and will end on April 11. The MAC Club’s goal is to collect 240 stuffed animals in total to be divided among three groups. The stuffed animals will be donated to The Children’s Home Society, Blueprints and put in Easter baskets to given to homeless children. The Easter baskets will also include chocolate crosses and other sweets, personal care items, Bibles and coloring books.
The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia is a non-profit child welfare organization. Blueprints is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending poverty. Both organizations assist the foster care system. Blueprints supports both current and potential foster parents. The Children’s Home Society operates nine shelters throughout West Virginia for youth who are in crisis.
“Teddy bears can be used as a comfort item during a hardship,” said Mac Club President Brooke Buchanan. “I wanted to bring that comfort to people.”
The MAC club agreed on getting involved with the college and the surrounding community by volunteering and fundraising.
MAC Club Vice President Toni Grogg’s nieces received teddy bears from a police officer in Parkersburg. “I felt great joy seeing the smiles on their faces. It’s nice to know that the officers use stuffed animals to give to children to distract them,” Grogg said.
The club originally wanted to donate the teddy bears collected from the drive to the local police departments, but they already had stuffed animals. Instead, Buchanan contacted foster care agencies and they agreed to accept the teddy bear donations.
There are three collection bins around campus: one near the President’s office, another in the student lounge and one beside the cafeteria. Stuffed animals must be new, unused and no taller than 20 inches. Contact Brooke Buchanan at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.