Hanks said most people don't realize how grave the child abuse situation is, even locally — especially locally.
“If it's out of sight, it's out of mind,” Hanks said. “If it's sexual abuse, nobody thinks that happens in Palestine, Texas. It doesn't happen just in San Antonio or Nashville, Tennessee — it happens right here everyday. Abuse knows no boundaries — economic, social, demographic.”
Since its inception in 2009, the Blankets and Bears Children’s Fund has worked to increase efforts and community engagement to change what Hanks called the “status of the best well-kept secret in town.”
In June of last year, the fund provided Palestine Regional Medical Center’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) with state-of-the-art equipment worth $25,000, which is used to help victims of sexual assault.
“The fund was able to purchase for Jessie Jones, the sexual assault examiner, a forensic examination table that is as good as any in this country — state of the art,” Hanks said, “because the children of this community deserve the best, just as the children in larger cities.”
And of course, the organization has distributed plenty of blankets and bears within the community, including to the following locations: Palestine Regional Medical Center, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Palestine Police Department, Palestine EMS, Palestine Fire Department, District Attorney’s Office, Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Northside Primary School.
Another goal of the organization is to implement programs to educate the community before abuse occurs.
In the fall of 2012, the organization distributed copies of “The Swimsuit Lesson” to Northside Primary School classrooms. The book, written by nationally known speaker and author Jon Holsten, helps parents and guardians talk to their young children and grandchildren about privacy, modesty and those who might do them harm.