Lehigh fire district helps local school reach stuffed animal goals | News, Sports, Jobs

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The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District is working with Lehigh Elementary School on a stuffed animal campaign that will benefit the Department for Children and Families.

The collection of new cuddly toys will continue throughout April, which is in line with Child Abuse Prevention Month. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is held annually to recognize the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Katie Heck, spokeswoman for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District, said an employee had a direct connection to this year’s fundraiser.

“One of our firefighters has a personal connection with Lehigh Elementary and brought this to our attention. It’s a successful fundraiser that they run every year. We thought it might be difficult to get the stuffed animals into schools, but maybe it will be easier for people to take part if they take them to one of our fire stations, ”said Heck. “We have our own firefighters who bring in stuffed animals. We want to show these students our support in their efforts to do good in the community. “

Heck wants to inform the community and involve more people.

“So far we’ve got a few calls and returns. I’m doing a big pickup from one of the contributors. We plan to keep the donation submission until April. “ Said Heck.

This is the second year the school has participated in the soft toy drive, according to Karyna Sandin, fourth grade teacher at Lehigh Elementary and fundraiser coordinator.

“This is actually only our second time doing the Stuffed Animal Drive. I brought it to our school last year after hearing from another teacher who was collecting teddy bears for children in the hospital during the holidays. We also made our trip during the holidays, but collected both new and old stuffed animals. The new cuddly toys were brought to Valerie’s House, an organization that supports children and families in mourning the loss of a loved one. “ Sandin said. “And we collected 200 old stuffed animals that we donated to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to help children with accidents or phone calls that might make them fearful and need comfort.”

Not only do the toys help children in need, but they also give students a sense of community as they work hard to prepare them for their new homes.

“My fourth grade students at the time, whom you see on our social media with all the stuffed animals, absolutely loved counting the stuffed animals and organizing them into new and old boxes. Every day they were even more excited than the day before to see how many we got and what variations of animals we got. You would imagine what the children who receive the animals would think of each one of them. “ Sandin said.

Sandin said her children’s smiles said it all.

“It was an amazing experience every time a student came into my room to bring in either their old or new animals because they were smiling and knew they were doing something to help other children. I will never forget a brother and sister who came in with a garbage bag of old stuffed animals that they wanted to donate. It was something that really caught my eye. The fact that with a small act of kindness children their age can see the impact they can have on others was something I was very proud of. Speaks for the character and the heart of the children at our school. They weren’t worried about not having stuffed animals at home now, but about how happy their stuffed animals would make someone else. “ Sandin continued.

Sandin chose DCF for this year’s Stuffed Animal Drive after meeting an old college friend who worked as a Child Protective Investigator Supervisor for DCF.

“I asked my friend and they were quick to respond giving me the idea to do this in April, Child Abuse Prevention Month. After finding that out, I spoke to my friend who is an engineer at Station 101 in Lehigh Acres and asked if he thought he could get the department to get even bigger participation this year. He immediately contacted Katie Heck, who is the public relations officer for the Lehigh Acres Fire Department, and she agreed that it would be a great idea to team up. “ Sandin said.

After they are picked up, the new cuddly toys go to the Children’s and Family Department, where they use the donations in the following ways:

• For children who are immediately taken into their care and placed in foster families

• For the Children’s Advocacy Center, where sexually abused children are treated

• Better together; A program that works with vulnerable youth / families to prevent them from being placed in foster care.

Members of the public can donate a new soft toy to any of the LAFCRD fire stations listed below:

• Station 101-1000 Joel Blvd.

• Station 103 – 308 Gunnery Road

• Station 104 – 3102 16th St SW

• Station 105 – 636 Thomas Sherwin Ave S.

Stuffed animals are collected during April and then delivered to Lehigh Elementary on April 30th by the district firefighters.

Further information can be found at https://www.lehighfd.com/ or https://lhl.leeschools.net/.

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