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Teddy Bear Patrol joins local fire departments



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March 21, 2012 - Firefighters from Brandon and Groveland Township will have some new friends along for the ride when they go out on calls.

The fire departments are now taking part in the Teddy Bear Patrol, a national campaign centered on giving out stuffed animals to children in frightening situations.

Brandon Fire Chief Dave Kwapis said this is his department's first time in the program, although Brandon emergency responders have done similar outreach for years, accepting donations of new or gently used stuffed animals to offer comfort to kids who may have been injured, or witnessed a traumatic event.

Kwapis said the Grand Blanc Area Chamber of Commerce, through the Tavern on the Green Restaurant in Grand Blanc, teamed up with Teddy Bear Patrol and have given the department about 30 pre-packaged foot-tall teddy bears. Groveland Fire has also received bears, he said.

"We can put them in ambulances and if we have a child that is injured, or their parents have been in an accident or there has been a fire or domestic assault of some sort, the kids can have something to hold onto," he said. "They have a tendency to calm down more so we can treat them and the stuffed animals help to relieve some anxiety."

Kwapis is grateful for the bears, as well as quilts for children made by a local guild organized through Mabelena's Quilt shop and donated to Brandon Fire.

"Over the past three years, we've probably given out a couple hundred quilts and stuffed animals," he said.

Donations of new or gently used stuffed animals and quilts can be brought to Brandon Fire Station #1, 53 South St., Ortonville.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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