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Spreading joy with teddy bears

The Prineville Presbyterian Church recently held a teddy bear drive and donated the collection to local law enforcement for children going through difficult times in their lives


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Prineville Police Captain Mike Boyd (LEFT), Reverend Mike Wilson (CENTER), and Sheriff Jim Hensley (RIGHT) display the teddy bears collected during a teddy bear drive.

Reverend Mike Wilson and his congregation at the Prineville Presbyterian Church held a teddy bear drive recently, collecting over 50 bears for use by local law enforcement.

Reverend Wilson presented the teddy bears to Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley and Captain Mike Boyd of the Prineville Police Department. The teddy bears will be used when dealing with children during difficult times in their lives.

Wilson said that the idea for the collection drive preceded his arrival in Prineville, having only come to the church three months ago.

"We are trying to be active in building relationships outside of our congregation," said Wilson. "This seemed like a nice, practical way of helping to form a ministry perspective for those that are hurting."

According to Crook County Undersheriff John Gautney, teddy bears are carried by all deputies while on patrol.

"The bears are used in all cases involving children," he said, "Especially where they have been a witness to, or a victim of, a traumatic incident."

According to Gautney, law enforcement has been using teddy bears for a long time, providing a sense of comfort, a safety blanket, or simply something for children to cuddle.

"Here in Prineville we get donations from various organizations all the time," said Gautney, "We use them anytime we are on the scene where children are involved."

Prineville police Capt. Mike Boyd, agreed, saying that all teddy bear donations are hugely appreciated.

"We deal with people on the worst day of their lives," said Boyd. "It's a big deal when we can give them something for comfort."

Boyd said that the bears are the universal comfort object to have when people are scared.

"Even grownups say they want a teddy bear," said Boyd, adding that members of the police force also enjoy having the bears around.

According to psychology.com, there are many reasons to love a teddy bear. They act as reminders of a children's innocence and of those who purchased them, and the stroking of a bear's soft fur is known to be therapeutic.

Boyd admitted to giving out quite a few bears during his career, and can attest to their impact on children.

"It is so frequent that we encounter a mom and dad that have been fighting, or are in crisis," said Boyd. "If there are children involved, they are usually crying and terrified that we are coming to break up their family. But, when I give those kids a bear, they just beam."

That is the very result that Wilson, and his congregation, had hoped for.

"Our effort was tied into Valentine's Day with 'Having a Heart' as a theme," explained Wilson. "It was our way of sharing God's heart through the comfort of a stuffed animal for kids going through horribly traumatic circumstances."




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