Donated teddy bears comfort children during traumatic situations

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 19, 2020

 From left, Ethan Rutt and Joe Solakowski, of the Shelby Township Fire Department; Ralph Engler and Joe Vogel, of the Knights of Columbus; and Mark Semaan, of the Knights of Columbus and a retired Shelby Township firefighter, pose with “Casey” teddy bears.

From left, Ethan Rutt and Joe Solakowski, of the Shelby Township Fire Department; Ralph Engler and Joe Vogel, of the Knights of Columbus; and Mark Semaan, of the Knights of Columbus and a retired Shelby Township firefighter, pose with “Casey” teddy bears.

Photo provided by St. Kieran’s Knights of Columbus Council 13983

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Traumatic situations such as fires, car crashes or storms can be especially frightening for a child to experience. The Knights of Columbus Council No. 13983 at St. Kieran Catholic Church recently took this issue and found a nice way to help any child who might be in this type of situation.

On Nov. 6, the St. Kieran Knights of Columbus Council presented to the Shelby Township Fire Department two cases of fluffy teddy bears. The teddy bears are to be given to children at fire and crash scenes to comfort them.

Shelby Township Assistant Fire Chief John McCoy said that the teddy bears can comfort children whose parents may not be able to talk to them due to emergency situations.

“The two most common situations where the teddy bear is comforting and calming to children is an auto accident and a house fire. When children are involved in an auto accident, we may need to treat them, a sibling or a parent. There are times where the parent may not be able to talk to the child, which creates additional anxiety for the child. The other most common situation is when they see our firefighters extinguishing their own house fire — those are very major incidents and can be long-lasting memories for anyone, but especially a child. Anything we can do to reduce that anxiety and stress level during any emergency situation for all involved is beneficial,” said McCoy.

The teddy bear program has taken place for several years now in collaboration with the Shelby Township Fire Department.

McCoy said the teddy bears are stored on the ambulances for emergencies that involve children.

“The local (Knights of Columbus) Council 13983 has donated the teddy bears for us to carry on our ambulances to comfort children involved in any traumatic injury or them witnessing any traumatic injuries of a family member during various emergency situations,” said McCoy.

Founded in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of Columbus is now an international fraternal organization based on the principals of charity, fraternity, unity and patriotism. They also strongly support the local, state and national Special Olympics.

The Knights of Columbus continually reaches out to help those in need.

Ralph Engler, a Knights of Columbus past grand knight, said the Knights of Columbus hopes to be able to help many children during their tough times.

“That is why we have donated these 24 ‘Casey’ (K of C) bears to Shelby Fire and Rescue. They are to be given to children who have had emergency technicians respond to any situation where they have been involved. It is hoped that these bears would give them some comfort while they are in an uncomfortable situation/event. We also hope that it can calm some of their anxiety until the emergency situation is resolved and they are in a more comfortable position,” said Engler.

The Knights of Columbus is a service organization of over 2 million Catholic men residing in many countries throughout the world and supporting those in need of help. They have responded to provide assistance and supplies during events not limited to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, broken faucets, transporting nondrivers to appointments and praying together with other members and with those in need of prayers.

St. Kieran Council No. 13983 has 137 members actively involved in supporting the Shelby Township Special Olympics, Austin High School essay contest and more.

“We hope these bears bring consolation and a smile to some of our little ones, and maybe some big ones, while their traumatic situation is being resolved,” said Engler.

Anyone interested in joining the Knights of Columbus should visit www.kofc.org/joinus.

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