Hugs that heal

By By Natalie Hale and By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

When someone endures a traumatic event, especially a child, he or she needs something to hold on to for comfort.

That’s why the U’s Student Health Advisory Committee is collecting stuffed animals and monetary donations to give to traumatized children in a project called Bear Hugs for Babies.

“We do this project to show the U supports our community,” said Derek Vanhille, the project coordinator and a sophomore in biology. “Every child is given one of these stuffed animals as a token of the community’s love and support for them.”

This year, stuffed animals collected will be given to children at Shriner’s Hospital and the Avenues Children’s Justice Center.

Last year, SHAC donated collected animals to Primary Children’s Medical Center.

Vanhille said he chose to donate to different community organizations in an effort to spread donations out around the region. He said the committee chose these two organizations because they provide services to children who need extra comfort during difficult times.

At the Avenues Children’s Justice Center, children are given stuffed animals to help them cope with recounting incidences of domestic abuse.

“We want these children to know that despite the violence they have faced personally, there are people in the community who want to show them love and compassion,” Vanhille said.

Salt Lake City Justice Center Director Susanne Mitchell said she agrees that the donations help.

“We appreciate donations of stuffed animals because they provide comfort to children who have had a difficult time and exhibited the courage to speak up,” Mitchell said.

The U has participated in Bear Hugs for Babies for the past six years.

This year, the advisory committee has partnered with Kohls, Costco and Foxwood to raise money and collect additional donated stuffed animals.

“This project gives parents a comfort that there are people in the community who are watching out for them and help provide their children comfort,” said Rachel Crane, health director and adviser of SHAC.

The SHAC project will be collecting donations through April 13. Bins to donate new and slightly used stuffed animals are located in the Marriott Library, the Union, the Bennion Community Service Center and other buildings on campus.

Monetary donations and stuffed animals can also be taken to the Student Health Center at the Madsen Health Center at 555 S. Foothill Blvd.