The Bowling Green Rotary Club presented Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower with 20 furry friends Wednesday designed to provide comfort for children in the area.
“It’s a multipurpose thing,” Rotary Club President Alan Palmer said. “We are not only providing these stuffed bears to the sheriff’s department to give to kids that have gone through a traumatic situation, we are also making a donation by purchasing these bears to (benefit) polio eradication.”
The 20 stuffed bears were part of the BearHuggs for Kids project that supports Rotary’s End Polio Now initiative. The bears, which were put together by club members using kits that were purchased, will be used by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office to comfort children experiencing traumatic incidents.
The Rotary Club bought 20 kits as part of a $500 donation to End Polio Now. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matched that donation 2-for-1, resulting in a $1,500 total donation.
“We have almost eradicated polio from the face of the earth,” Palmer said. “There are a couple of hot spots where it still exists and it is simply because of politics that we haven’t eliminated it completely.
“I don’t think people realize that one time in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, polio was a scourge here in the United States. It affected so many young people. It took Franklin Roosevelt down. He was in heavy braces for a long time. And our own Mitch McConnell, he suffered childhood polio.”
Gayla Warner was among the Rotary members who gathered at Covington Woods Park to put the bears together.
“We just took an afternoon and stuffed them all up,” Warner said. “We ... told them they had a big job to do.”
She said this project has a personal meaning for her because her two sons were in an auto accident with their babysitter when they were young and were comforted with bears from the officer who worked the accident.
“Nobody was hurt, but they were traumatized because of everything that happened,” Warner said. “Whoever came gave them bears, and it made a huge difference for them. It just tickled me that I got the opportunity to make bears for somebody else.”
Hightower said the WCSO is thankful for the donation, which will be used for traumatic events such as domestic violence or accidents.
“If we have a child on the scene, this is something they can get that will comfort them in that particular time,” Hightower said. “This is just another resource and a way for us to try to console the community in difficult times, so we appreciate this very much.”