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South Point church supplies stuffed animals to kids

SOUTH POINT — It sounds like such a simple thing, but it can bring great comfort to frightened children. And reaching out to them is the whole purpose of Teddy Bear Sunday at South Point United Methodist Church.

Once a year the church asks its members to bring in a teddy bear or other stuffed animal. On Teddy Bear Sunday, they take the donated stuffed animals and decorate the church with them.

Then the church contacts Lawrence County Children’s Services and at its convenience, the organization picks up the toys to keep for those scary times that can happen in a child’s life. Such times as when a child is removed from his family because he is the victim of abuse.

“When they take a child out of a home, they have (the stuffed animals) and can give them to the child,” Edna Elias, long-time member and event organizer, explained.

“We have been gathering teddy bears for so many years. We have had as many as 500 or more,” she said. “A child, if you give them a stuffed animal, they can hold it and can talk to it. It is comforting for the child when they have to take them out of a home.”

The only requirement to participate is to bring in a new or washed and sanitized slightly used toy that is under 10 inches.

“We have had monkeys and ducks,” Elias said. “A lot of people buy new ones or lot of people will buy them at yard sales and they wash them if they can.”

If they can’t, they know they can count on Elias to help out.

“They will bring them to me or someone else who can wash and disinfectant them and they are like new,” she said. “I have already washed a bagful and have another bagful to wash and clean.”

This year Teddy Bear Sunday is set for Aug. 17.

Elias considers collecting the stuffed animals part of the purpose of her church.

“That is a mission to help little children,” she said. “I consider us a mission church.”