Anyone who has ever seen a child sleep with his teddy bear or her favorite plush bunny knows the soothing effect such toys have on many youngsters.
This past summer, the Utah Knights of Columbus collected more than 3,000 stuffed animals — bears, bunnies, frogs, dogs, cats, fish, unicorns and more — from parishes across the Salt Lake Valley and beyond, then donated them to first responders and victim advocates for use with traumatized children.
The distributed plush toys went to area ambulance services, police and fire departments, and other agencies that often deal with families in emergency situations.
Frank Carmona, Utah district master for the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, organized the collection of the stuffed animals.
“We in Utah focus on our veterans and our law enforcement and other first responders, many of whom are veterans,” Carmona said. “First responders are a huge part of the Patriot Degree of the Knights of Columbus and we know that they need to be recognized for their patriotism.
Those first responders, he pointed out, are often the primary point of contact for children in crisis situations.
“Many first responders show up to a home where little kids are crying and most of these brave men and women do not have the money to buy the stuffed animals to calm the kids,” Carmona explained. “This was a simple but very effective program that helps our first responders and helps those they serve.”
Many trauma centers, psychologists and social workers utilize teddy bears when working with young trauma victims. The soft stuffed toys can provide an anxious child with a sense of comfort, safety and security. “Scientists regularly find that so-called ‘transitional objects’ like teddy bears help children handle emotions and limit stress,” writes science journalist Joshua A. Krisch.
Brother Knight Clarence Illario, a Crime Prevention Officer with the Draper Police Department, agreed that stuffed animals were important tools for first responders in dealing with situations involving young children.
“Children in crisis come in many forms — during domestic violence between parents, destruction of personal property during times of fire, vehicle accidents, deaths and more,” said Illario. “Giving a child a stuffed animal gives the officers satisfaction in their jobs knowing they are able to help those who may be feel helpless at any given moment and that they can bring relief to those in need.”
Speaking for the Utah Knights, Carmona offered thanks to all who assisted in the collection drive and distribution.
“It would not have been possible without your help,” he said. “Just know when you see a fire truck, police car or ambulance, chances are there are stuffed animals in it, animals donated by our generous parishioners.”
Share your story with email@example.com.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau