The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

January 10, 2014

Trading smiles: Blankets and Bears helps children through Palestine Police Department

PALESTINE — In the aftermath of violent or stressful domestic situations, a warm, fuzzy blanket or bear could have a prominent positive impact on the child who has suffered abuse.

This was the mission that inspired the Anderson County Blankets and Bears Children's Fund, a non-profit organization that since 2009 has provided new blankets and stuffed animals to children who have been traumatized or abused. The fund relies on donations to distribute the cuddly gifts to local agencies, law enforcement, shelters, hospitals and other organizations that assist children in needful times.

One such distribution took place Thursday, when members of the fund met with Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert to provide local law enforcement with a routine supply of the fuzzy means to make a difference.

“We normally place them in all our control units, so when patrol officers ride around and come up on a situation where a child needs a bear or a blanket, then we distribute to them at that point,” Herbert said.

Brenda Galindo, community liaison for the Palestine Police Department, said officers hope to calm the distressed child.

“Any scene that we go into where there's a child, we kind of try to comfort them by giving them a small gift,” Galindo said. In abuse situations for instance, officers want the children to understand that they are their friends.

“We give them a small blanket (or stuffed animal) to tote around and hold,” Galindo said.

The organization was started following an email conversation between local attorney Jackson Hanks and Joe Coleman, president of the Anderson County Child Welfare Board.

Hanks said it was born out of “frustration on the needs of children in this community who are abused and traumatized.”

“So the idea that Joe and I came up with was Blankets and Bears,” he said. “We know that those are band aids (but) at least it's a band aid — it's a place to start.”

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