The fuzz gets fuzzier thanks to Share Your Bear
Girl Guides of Canada, Kids Help Phone and MaxWell Realty are once again partnering with the Calgary Police Service to help comfort young victims of crime through the 15th annual Share Your Bear event on Wednesday.
Each year, the Calgary Police Service’s Victim Assistance Support Team gives over 4,000 stuffed animals to children and youth who experience trauma as a result of crime. The stuffed animals are donated by Calgarians, collected by MaxWell Realty, prepared by the Girl Guides and distributed by Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Unit volunteers with the number for Kids Help Phone attached on a tag.
“It is amazing how much of an impact stuffed animals can have on children who witnessed or were victims of a crime,” says Sgt. Brent Hutt, with the Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Unit. “Having a supply of stuffed toys in our office is a huge help to our officers and volunteers when we are trying to help children and youth through traumatizing situations.”
The Share Your Bear was started in the year 2000 after members of the Victim Assistance Unit learned about a similar program where schools in Airdrie collected toys for kids who had been the victims of some kind of misfortunate. Thanks to the partnership with the Girl Guides, Kids Help Phone and later MaxWell Realty, the program has grown steadily and now thousands of stuffed toys are collected each year.
“At Kids Help Phone, we hear from kids every day who are experiencing traumatic situations in their life. As Canada’s only national charity providing free, anonymous innovative counseling services to young people, our counselors have encouraged kids who are holding weapons to self-harm, to put down the weapon and grab a bear to hug and hold on to while talking with us,” says Sylvia Whitworth, Director of Kids Help Phone in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. “It really helps the child calm down and begin the process of recovering from the emotional damage.”
“Girls Guides values community service and we are glad that we can help with such a worthy project,” says Sommer Dahlseide, Marketing Coordinator with Girl Guides Calgary. “Hopefully the stuffed animals we have helped collect this year will be a big comfort to the children that get them.”
Calgarians can donate new or gently-used stuffed animals to the Share Your Bear program by dropping them off at any MaxWell Realty office. Visit www.MaxWellRealty.ca for a list of locations.
“Here at MaxWell Realty, we have been collecting bears year round in our various locations throughout the city, for a number of years. It never gets old to watch so many people come through our doors with bears in hand for those in need.” Says Johnny Alain, Vice President, MaxWell Realty Canada. “Equipping those that have been victimized with the help and hope that they deserve is the first step towards a brighter future and we are so thrilled to be a part of that.”
The stuffed animals that have been collected over the past year will be presented to the Calgary Police Service on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, at the Girl Guides of Canada Headquarters.