By Tanna Friday
For the Tribune
ARGO — It may come as a surprise to find out that some of our local first responders have teddy bears traveling with them on the job. What is even more surprising is how significant these teddy bears are for both emergency personnel and children during traumatic situations.
During Monday’s Argo Council meeting, Dena Vinings, daughter of a local retired South Central Bell employee honored Argo police with several bags of teddy bears from the Pioneer’s Hug-a-Bear program.
The Pioneer Hug-A-Bears, the largest industry-related volunteer community service organization in the world, was first introduced to children in Sioux Falls, South Dakota pediatric wards back in 1979.
Today, the grassroots effort has spread to thousands of Pioneer communities across the U.S. and Canada. Telephone Pioneers, including this local chapter, have supplied police, fire and rescue units and a host of other agencies that deal with traumatized children with more than 3 million of these homemade bears to date.
The bears have been particularly well-received by police, who carry the ever-ready teddy bears in their squad cars. Not only are these bears for helping calm a child in any stressful situation, but they have also been a helpful tool for an officer to use while conducting on-scene investigations.
Mayor Betty Bradley thanked Vinings and her mother for the thoughtful bears to the city’s police department.
“Thank you,” Bradley said. “We appreciate that. I’m sure the police department will appreciate that. They come in contact with a lot of kids.”