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Bears decorated for kids in distress

November 19, 1997

Bears decorated for kids in distress

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Sewing and stuffing 200 teddy bears wasn't nearly as hard as telling the 50 children who decorated them that they couldn't keep them.

But once the children from Child Care Connection day care understood that the bears would be donated to the Chambersburg Police Department to be given out to children in bad situations, most didn't seem to mind.

"I think they enjoy it. They always enjoy painting and they know what it's going for," said Frances Strite, a day care provider, as she squirted out more paint on a sheet of waxed paper.

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The four owners of Child Care Connection, who manage state-licensed home day care centers in Chambersburg, Waynesboro, Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pa., organized a trip Wednesday morning to the Scotland Community Center, where they spread out bags full of homemade teddy bears, yards of ribbon and tubes of paint in front of the eager children.

"I need another bear," yelled Luke Mentzer, holding up one he had finished decorating with a red ribbon around its neck, painted blue buttons, and a painted green face.

"Can I give this one teeth?" he asked Strite, as he poised a cotton swab dipped in black paint over the bear's face.

Chambersburg Police Patrolman John Clawson visited the center as the children, ages up to 5, decorated the stuffed toys. He was later presented with the bears for the department.

The police officers will keep the bears in boxes in the trunks of their patrol cars to give out to children who are in car accidents, involved in domestic situations, and on other occasions, Clawson said.

"It takes their minds off of it ... It gives them something to focus on," he said.

Child Care Connection Owner Cecilia Cosenza came up with the idea after she saw an organization in Pittsburgh do something similar, she said.

"I thought it was a good idea for our children to do it for the children less fortunate," she said.

The day care owners, providers and some parents sewed and stuffed the bears with material donated by Wal-Mart, said Terry Graham, a partner with Cosenza.

With some material left over for next year, Cosenza said there are plans to make the project an annual event.

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