Bears offer comfort to young victims
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am
A Turner Valley reverend’s birthday wish to give comfort to children in traumatic situations is coming true.
Rather than accepting presents for her 60th birthday last January, Marilyn Evans with the Lewis Memorial United Church asked for one Teddy bear for each of those years to donate to children experiencing trauma through the Turner Valley RCMP and Foothills Regional Victim Services. Victim services is a non-profit volunteer society that provides assistance to victims of crime or tragedy in the foothills area.
Having learned about the Share Your Bear program, which provides Teddy bears to children involved in emergency situations, Evans wanted to bring the program to her own community.
Throughout January, she collected 68 bears from family, friends and members of the congregation.
“I always wanted to invite my family and friends and congregation to participate in a special project that would make a difference in the lives of others,” she said.
Evans said it didn’t take long before the giving began.
“It was quite delightful because one Sunday after the announcement was made about this special project two little bears appeared at the front of the church,” she said. “Week by week the Teddy bear collection at the front of the church grew and grew.”
Even children in the congregation played a special role in the bear collecting initiative.
During Evans’ one-on-one time with them for worship she talked about where the Teddy bears were going and how they would help children in times of need.
She said the children took a few moments to hug each bear before the stuffed animals were sent to the Turner Valley RCMP detachment.
“It’s just been really heartfelt the way the circle started fairly small and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s just been a gift to have the response that we’ve had.”
The idea to give to others when it’s time to receive is a tradition in Evans’ family. She said years ago it was decided donations would go to a charity in lieu of birthday gifts.
This year was extra special, being Evans’ 60th birthday.
“I wanted to a make a difference in the community and contribute to the well-being of others,” she said.
Evans spoke with Turner Valley RCMP Cpl. Tiffany McGregor about her idea and was told the detachment doesn’t have a Share Your Bear program and would be willing to accept the bears on behalf of their younger victims.
“I anticipate that the need will be varied and most importantly it will be a source of comfort for children and anybody else who would benefit form holding a teddy bear in anxious or uncertain times,” she said. “I hope it challenges and inspires others to think about celebration in a different way – that others will think about how our celebrations can benefit others and make a difference in the lives of others as well as honouring the celebration.”
McGregor said the detachment was ecstatic to receive Evans’ collection of teddy bears.
“We got some of the nicest, the plushest bears from the reverend and her congregation,” she said.
McGregor said when RCMP members respond to an emergency such as a traffic accident or domestic situation and there are children involved members often give the youngsters stickers and tattoos. She finds the teddy bears are a great addition.
“It’s almost like a security for them,” she said. “It’s something they can hold on to. They can take care of it while we are taking care of them.”
McGregor said the bears will also give youngsters something to focus on and help get their minds off the traumatic events they dealt with that took place.
The Turner Valley RCMP sent a number of Evans’ teddy bears to the Foothills Regional Victims Services, while those at the Turner Valley detachment are kept in police vehicles for ease of access in the event of an incident involving children.