Henry Mayo is holding a teddy bear drive during the month of April to help comfort children admitted to the emergency room, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital officials announced Friday.
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Santa Clarita residents can donate new 9- to 12-inch teddy bears or other stuffed animals starting Tuesday by visiting a collection box at Henry Mayo, the Hyatt Regency Valencia, or participating Santa Clarita businesses, hospital officials said.
“It’s an opportunity to make a child feel better,” said Maria Strmsek, director of volunteer services at Henry Mayo. “The slogan for the drive is, ‘Nothing says I care like a comforting teddy bear,’ and that’s really neat because it’s true… Most parents don’t think about taking in a plush animal or toy, they just think about getting their child to the emergency room. It’s an opportunity for them to hold onto something so they aren’t so fearful.”
Children under the age of 14 will receive a stuffed animal shortly after they are admitted to the emergency room and can take it home after their visit.
More than 10,200 children were admitted to Henry Mayo’s emergency room last year, and the goal for this year’s drive is to collect as close to 10,000 stuffed animals as possible, hospital officials said.
This is the first time Santa Clarita businesses are being challenged to participate in the hospital’s teddy bear program due to the rising number of children visiting the emergency room.
The past two years, the Assistance League of Santa Clarita has provided the stuffed toys, but are now unable to reach the new quota on their own, Strmsek said.
“We’re trying to get people in the community really involved,” Strmsek said. “We’re getting businesses and local churches (to participate) and reaching out to vendors. Real Life Church will have a collection box for an entire weekend of services. It’s amazing how much it’s spreading.”
Another great aspect of the program, she said, is that instead of asking for money, hospital officials are asking for something parents can get their kids involved in as well.
“It’s so easy to do,” she said. “A child can actually go to the store with a parent and buy a teddy bear. That’s a cool aspect, that it’s children helping other children. Anybody can get behind it because they understand what it’s like to be a little kid and be afraid.”
Santa Clarita residents can donate April 1 through 30 at the drive’s primary drop-off locations, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and the Hyatt Regency Valencia.
Residents interested in visiting collection boxes at Santa Clarita businesses can click here for a list of additional locations.
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