May 8, 2014

Optimists help first responders help kids

Every year, at a Boise State University basketball game, the Boise Noon Optimist Club will collect hundreds of teddy bears during its program aptly named Operation Bear Care. These plush characters are then given to first responders who keep them in their vehicles and give them to children when they are in an unfortunate or traumatic situation. Other Optimist Clubs and service groups around the country perform similar projects, reaching out to kids to help relieve their anxiety and bolster a comfortable relationship between youngsters and law enforcement.
From L to R: Brandon Blanchard, David Wilke,
Blaine Shutts, Andrea Brownlee and Lorraine Sinnott.

The Optimist Club of Oskaloosa, Iowa has taken this program a step further. They have created an activity kit backpack that is filled with small toys, crayons and coloring books. Serving the same purpose, its approach reaches across a broader age-range. According to Police Chief Jake McGee, the backpacks help distract children when they are in a stressful situation so that he police can do what they need to do. "Hopefully, [it] comforts them a little bit," he concluded. 

Optimist Club President Andrea Brownlee said, "We thought it was a good idea. Something we could do to help the community."

Understated, but there when needed; yes indeed, Ms. Brownlee,  it is a great way to be of service.

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