How Teddy Bears Make A Difference
by Madelyn Ivy, Assistant Director of Children and Family Ministry
For some children, fall is a time of fun, family, and plenty of feasting. But for those children who are waiting for a stable, loving home of their own, this time of year is often full of deep anxiety and fear. In a single year, more than 20,000 children living in Dallas County are reported as being abused or neglected. While some of these children are able to remain in their current living situations, others must be removed because these homes are no longer safe for them. Many enter the foster care system and wait as a judge decides upon a safe and permanent home for them. Due to the complexity and often subsequent length of this process, a child may end up having several temporary homes during this time. Such instability and uncertainly can cause some children to have difficulty feeling safe, trusting others, and building healthy relationships, and it can even leave them feeling uncertain about their identity or personal value.
This is where the involvement of Dallas CASA makes an immediate and long-lasting impact. Dallas CASA is a non-profit social service and advocacy agency that works to ensure that children who have been abused or neglected are given a chance to grow into healthy and successful adults. Dallas CASA volunteers are appointed by judges and advocate for the needs and best interests of children who have been abused or neglected, including helping the children to find loving families in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. Presently, over 1,300 volunteers serve more than 3,100 children each year in Dallas County.
Dallas CASA volunteers work tirelessly to help ensure that all of the children in their care find stable and safe homes where they are well cared for and loved. For many children, a CASA volunteer is their only constant during a frightening and inconsistent time. While some children are eventually reunited with their parents or other relatives, others find new homes with adoptive parents. As part of the process of gaining new families and homes, many of the children who have become candidates for adoption must spend time in court rooms as their adoptions are being finalized. For some people, simply being in a court room can stimulate uncertainty or a sense of foreboding. For children hoping to begin a completely new life, such feelings are often exacerbated. That is why Dallas CASA provides a teddy bear or other stuffed animal to each and every child to act as a cuddly and calming companion during an otherwise stressful or confusing time.
On November 23rd, Dallas County celebrated National Adoption Day, a time when Dallas CASA lined the courtrooms with these stuffed animals. Each child was allowed to choose a furry friend to accompany them as they transitioned into life with their adoptive families. Having come off the success of their first Prayer Bear Drive benefitting Cook Children’s Medical Center held during 2019’s Vacation Bible School, the Children and Family Ministry of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church held a second Prayer Bear Drive to help support Dallas CASA and all the children who are candidates for adoption. Partnering with the Stewardship Ministry of SMAA and Saint Michael Episcopal School, donations of new teddy bears and other stuffed animals were accepted throughout the months of October and the beginning of November. By the end of the donation period, 76 stuffed animals had been collected!
Following the collection, families from SMAA and SMES gathered to bless the stuffed animals and deliver them to Dallas CASA. Upon arrival, it could not be underestimated how delighted and grateful the folks at Dallas CASA were to receive so many furry friends. While they could not reveal any specific details about how many or which children would be receiving a teddy bear, they did assure those delivering the stuffed animals that each one would become a welcome, cuddly companion to a child who is a candidate for adoption. They were certain that through contributions like those of Saint Michael, and the continued efforts of Dallas CASA volunteers, 2019’s National Adoption Day would be one not of fear or uncertainty, but rather of comfort and blessing.
The staff of the Children and Family Ministry at Saint Michael could not agree more. Perhaps in the future, there will be a third Prayer Bear Drive supporting other children who could benefit from having a constant, cuddly companion by their side. For now, though, we wish to express our sincerest thanks to all those who donated a teddy bear or other stuffed animal during this and all of the Prayer Bear Drives here at Saint Michael!
Want to keep helping children? If you would enjoy contributing to another Prayer Bear Drive (any other cause benefitting children), contact Madelyn Ivy at [email protected], and let us know what you think.
Tags: Blog & Newsroom