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Program provides huggable stuffed animals for children

Sometimes a child just needs a bear hug. When there are tragedies, adults sometimes have difficulty coping. For a child, however, it's much worse. It's during those times of crises and tragedies a child's world becomes threatening and challenging.

The comfort of a huggable teddy bear can lend comfort and security to a child whose world has suddenly gone awry. That is the idea behind the Bearable Hugs for Georgia's Children campaign, a coordinated effort between the Division of Child Support Services and the Fatherhood Program.

The campaign kicked off Jan. 12.

Volunteers were asked to donate a stuffed animal, which will be given to a child under traumatic circumstances.

Child victims of crimes, children of domestic violence households, children involved in traffic collisions, child witnesses and others facing adversity will receive these huggable creatures to help provide comfort and a sense of security.

Lynda Samples, director of the Toombs Judicial Circuit Child Support Division in Thomson heard about the program and informed District Attorney Dennis C. Sanders about her office's interest in getting involved.

Immediately, Barbara Burns, who works in the local Child Support Division, volunteered to head up the new program.

One of the first questions Mr. Sanders asked the Ms. Samples and Mrs. Burns was: "Do you think anyone will contribute?"

In just a few days, Mr. Sanders had an answer.

It came in an overwhelming manner.

Ms. Samples and Mrs. Burns told Mr. Sanders they had received more than a hundred animals for children.

As soon as they informed him, he couldn't believe it.

"Seeing all of those stuffed animals was very believing," recalled Mr. Sanders.

The local Child Support Recovery Division has now received more than 350 assorted stuffed animals, which will be given to children throughout the six-county circuit. Those six counties include: McDuffie, Warren, Glascock, Taliaferro, Wilkes and Lincoln.

Georgia's first lady, Mary Perdue, is actively involved in the campaign.

Mr. Sanders said plans are being made to distribute a portion of the animals to troopers with the Georgia State Patrol to help children at the scene of wrecks. He also said some of them would be distributed to agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation when they have to work cases involving children.

Throughout the circuit, local law enforcement agencies also will be given a supply to hand out to children in certain situations.

The Child Enrichment Center also will have a supply of the furry little animals.

"It makes all of us feel good that this effort might make it just a little more bearable for a small child in a crisis or a tragedy," said Mrs. Burns.

Web posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010

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