JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The loss has been great for the children and families suffering from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. But residents of Region 8 are looking to help with the gift of teddy bears.
Operation Teddy Bear Love organizer Meagan Cremeens says the outreach is overwhelming.
Not only are the bears stacking up in bins across Region 8, volunteers are lining up as well.
"They are coming to sort the bears, to pack them up into the bags to be shipped out on Wednesday, as well as to write note cards or to attach note cards to the individual bears themselves."
Cremeens says the stuffed animals, especially the teddy bear, is a symbol of healing and security for the community.
The desire to help others stems from a special empathy of the heartache and suffering of the Westside tragedy.
"We received teddy bears after the '98 shooting and it meant everything to us. Everyone at school got them, as well as first responders, dispatchers, and people all over Jonesboro. So we wanted to be able to provide that for the kids in Connecticut as well. As well as the community."
Another Westside 2004 graduate, Colby Brooks, was unable to sit down for an interview but did release the following statement:
"I cannot stress enough how important is it donate to the children of Connecticut. As a child having your sense of security taken away is something that forever changes your life. I can't begin to put into words the feeling my classmates and I had walking into WMS for the first time after March 24,1998. What I can do is tell you seeing the outpouring of support from across the country made it a little easier. It is refreshing to see a country reach out to community and I feel we as community need to reach out to these children and show our support for them and their families. Seeing the gifts, cards, letters, banners and toys given to us gave us a renewed sense of faith and hope, one that is indescribable. I think I speak for the class of 2004 in saying simply knowing that people are on their knees at night praying for you and your family makes such a tragedy a little easier to cope with. I urge people to take 20 minutes out of their day and drop off a teddy bear or stuffed animal for these children. I am donating every stuffed animal I received 14 years ago in hopes of making one child feel that they are not alone."
Below is a list of drop-off locations:
-Valley View Jr. High and Intermediate
-Nettleton Jr. High
-Westside Middle School
-Southwest Church of Christ
-Bono Church of Christ
-The Refinery at The Mall At Turtle Creek
-Barnes and Noble
-Big Creek Outdoors in Bono
-Wood Hoffman Vision Clinic
-Herman Baptist Church
-Valley View Church of Christ