Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Deputy Seth Crosswhite said he has seen too many scared children in his 13 years of law enforcement -- from a 9-year-old pajama-clad boy who was lost to youngsters who have witnessed domestic violence in their homes.
”I just kind of have a special place for young kids in those situations, and I don't like to see them forgotten about after everything is said and done,” Crosswhite said. “I want to make sure they're OK, and make sure they're being taken care of.”
The deputy, in collaboration with the sheriff's deputy association, has implemented a new program called “Teddy Bears for Tears.”
Under the program, two or three stuffed animals will be kept in patrol cars for deputies to distribute to children who are the victims of crimes or who witness difficult situations.
”It's just a program where we can offer the teddy bear to young children, offer them comfort and let them know that just because the cops show up we're not the bad guys and we're there to help,” Crosswhite said. “We're not the big, scary person there to take mom or dad away. We're there to help and comfort and be that support system for them if they need it.”
Local businesses Broese's Uniforms and Don Brown State Farm Insurance have offered to accept donations.
”These are kids that have been traumatized, and anything you can do to help kids like this, we want to do,” said Don Brown, of Don Brown State Farm Insurance. “If it just makes one kid out of 20 feel better, then it's worth it. But I suspect it's probably going to be closer to 19 out of 20.”
Andy Broese, owner of Broese's Uniforms, said helping with the project was a natural thing to do.
”We like to reach out to our community,” Broese said. “I've had some calls from people. They've ordered a bunch. I think it's going to be a successful campaign.”
It all depends on the public.
”The more donations we get, the longer we can continue the program,” Crosswhite said.
How to help:
New or gently used stuffed animals can be dropped at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office main station in Eureka, the substations in McKinleyville and Garberville, at Broese's Uniforms in Eureka or at Don Brown State Farm Insurance in Fortuna.
Checks made out to HDSO with “Teddy Bears for Tears” in the memo line can be mailed to, Attn. Teddy Bears for Tears, P.O. Box 1352, Eureka, CA, 95502.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.