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Horizon kindergartners donate stuffed animals for police calls

Sgt. Ralph Dawe, at right, talks to Horizon kindergartners. (CONTRIBUTED)
Sgt. Ralph Dawe, at right, talks to Horizon kindergartners. (CONTRIBUTED)

Police officers see the scenes far too often … a little girl distraught after her parents fight, a boy traumatized after a car wreck. Kindergartners at Horizon Elementary School decided to show concern for those children.

“Kindergarten teachers discussed ideas meaningful for five-year-olds. The idea grew” for donating stuffed animals, teacher Susan Stepko said. All grades at Horizon pursue service projects.

In keeping with Valentines Day themes, kindergarten classes focused on friendship, along with “Caring School Community” doctrine. “We chose stuffed animals because kids love them,” Stepko said. “We knew that first responders give stuffed animals, if available, to children in times of crisis.”

“A small child involved in a bad accident is helped by having something to cling to for comfort,” Stepko said.

Kindergartners donated about 75 stuffed animals of all sizes and shapes. “Some were very large. Two teddy bears stood about 30 inches tall to small animals about 8-10 inches,” Stepko said. Most were Teddy bears but one was a hand-crocheted blanket with a bunny head.

Along with Stepko, teachers involved with the service project were Pam Besherse, Camie Coker and Lucy Pavao.

Sgt. Ralph Dawe, Horizon’s special resource officer, served as point of contact, and other Madison Police Department officers visited the students. Dawe and his colleagues spoke to the children about helping others and “how the animals help other kids who are having a ‘bad day,'” Stepko said.

When the officers took questions from students, one girl recalled getting a Teddy bear from a policeman after a car accident. “She said it made her feel much better,” Stepko said. The kindergartners wrote thank-you notes to the officers.

Kindergartner Winter Brookshire donated a stuffed animal “because, if there is a car accident, we gave a stuffed animal to them in case they get sad.” Classmate Mason Rinehart wanted to help “because some kids have fires and their toys get burned up. Now, they can feel better because they will have a stuffed animal.”

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