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Patch Partners With Connecticut State Police On Operation Snuggle

Stuffed animals originally donated for Newtown will comfort children across Connecticut in memory of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

From Winnie the Pooh to Paddington, teddy bears are a universal symbol for comforting a scared or worried child. Perhaps this is why, in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, during which 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered by a lone gunman, the world sent thousands of teddy bears to that community. 

In our part of Connecticut, we also turned to teddy bears as a way to show our support for Newtown. In December, Patch launched Operation Snuggle Newtown, and in four days, nearly 100 local businesses across our 41 sites helped us .

, to be given as gifts at a townwide Christmas party that was organized for kids in town right before the holiday. But Newtown was overrun with bears, and we did not want to complicate the situation there.

So we turned to the Connecticut State Police and asked Public Information Officer Lt. J. Paul Vance if the department had any type of program that gave out bears to children at traumatic or upsetting crime or accident scenes. He told us that there used to be such a program that kept bears in each cruiser, but funding dried up.

And so Operation Snuggle II was born.

Today, Jan. 25, a group of Patch editors packed up the remaining 2,500 bears where they were being stored in Manchester, and delivered them to the state Department of Public Safety headquarters in Middletown. From there, they will be distributed to each barracks in Connecticut, and to each cruiser. When the need arises, each trooper will have comfort on hand for a child in need.

Trooper Kelly Grant, a member of the CSP public information office, graciously welcomed us to headquarters Friday for the delivery. She told us a story about a recent car rollover in which two children had to be pulled from the car through the sunroof, uninjured but shaken and upset. The trooper at the scene had a stuffed animal in his cruiser and gave it to the children as they sat on the roadside.

"It made a big difference," Grant said. "It calmed them right down."

We hope it takes a long time for the Connecticut troopers to work their way through this collection of cuddly stuffed toys, but if and when they do start to run out, Patch will stage another Operation Snuggle collection in partnership with our awesome local businesses, and we will resupply.

Thank you to all the businesses who volunteered themselves as drop-off points. Thank you to all the amazing people who donated one, two, 10, even 50 stuffed animals and fleece blankets. We could not have done this part of the program without the kindness of Patrick and Mike Greene, owners of Greene Moving & Storage in Manchester, who took such good care of the bears over the holidays while we found them a new home.

Michael Cragin January 27, 2013 at 01:07 PM
4500 teddy bears.....at 20$ each............90,000$ people spent on teddy bears....this country needs to learn HOW to donate.....what to donate....when to donate....We are a caring nation.......so it all makes sense.....If each teddy bear donater held hands with their family and sincerely PRAYED....the power of prayer could have sufficed ...Food banks are empty and we have 4500 teddy bears.....oh well
Richard Hooker January 27, 2013 at 02:16 PM
People send things to help and you are going to bash them for it? What a way to support in light of this tragedy.
Sam Mihailoff January 27, 2013 at 02:22 PM
4,500 Teddy Bears, were 4,500 donations of love, compassion and indeed perhaps even prayer. To criticize or even suggest HOW someone should donate is disingenuous. Patch made a good call here. The SPD as well as local PD around the state come across “little ones” in moments of fear on a daily basis and if a Teddy Bear, gives a bit of support and comfort in that crucial time, it works just like an ongoing Truman hug! What does upset me, or at the very least makes me shake my head, are the ones totally void from any compassion; the ones who gave the “token” week of “sadness” and are back to their self-centered life. Look around! Many are the very ones feeling entitled to the free coffee, Maritime Aquarium passes, and Disney On-Ice tickets while they blow their horns, yell and flip the bird to fellow motorists who may have taken the parking spot that obviously should have been “theirs” by Divine Providence!! It comes down to a world of “givers” and “takers”....Ask yourselves....WHICH ARE YOU???
bob January 27, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Get over it ! How about saying Thank you.
Lisa January 28, 2013 at 09:43 AM
To say that anyone making a comment that is not in line with all the PC BS has no compassion is just sick and way out of line. And speaking of "givers" vs "takers"... well, just how many grants, fund-raisers, tributes, ribbons and teddy bears will be enough? ...911...Haiti... just sayin'.
Michael Cragin January 28, 2013 at 11:19 AM
send 233 of them to brazil;....in memory of those kids that just died........
Sue January 29, 2013 at 03:59 AM
How about we make sure everyone in Sandy Hook that wants a teddy bear gets one, and then send he rest to children's hospitals. Kids who are sick love things to snuggle...It brightens their days....Just a thought. And people should be able to donate WHATEVER the heck they want to. It is the act of kindness, not the item or the monetary donation. What did YOU donate Michael?...And Sam...both my kids were in that school...My son was 3 feet away. I still cry every single day... Don't give me any of this business as usual crap. It will NEVER be business as usual again. Clearly you are removed from this tragedy.

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