Few events could be scarier for a young child than being in an automobile wreck or seeing the police at their home in an emergency situation.
To ward off that fear, North Myrtle Beach police officers carry stuffed animals to give to traumatized children, hoping to create a bond that will help put the youngsters at ease, at least for the moment.
Now, because of the hard work and dedication of members of the North Myrtle Beach-Little River Kiwanis Club, the local police have another soothing gift for children who find themselves in frightening situations.
On Tuesday, the club donated 90 stuffed dolls to the city police department. These aren’t just any stuffed dolls. They come with colored markers that let the children draw on them and make them their own personal friend.
Part of a worldwide Kiwanis program, the dolls are given to police departments, fire departments, social services agencies and hospitals for children going through a traumatizing experience.
Local Kiwanis president-elect Kerri Allen said the dolls came from a group effort of all the club members and from a suggestion from a member who had seen them at a Kiwanis national convention.
“Our member and district governor, Jim Turnbull, brought this project to our attention because it was something his wife, Joni, really believed in and wanted us to take on,” Allen said. “She is responsible for much of the sewing as well as Karin Perkins of the Pawleys Island Kiwanis Club."
Once the dolls were cut out and sewn, Allen said club members jumped in and stuffed them at a meeting. They put them in bags with the markers.
She said the dolls can serve important purposes in addition to being a calming source for the child:
- A child can draw on the doll with markers, distracting him or her from discomfort and boredom. Because the doll is soft and squeezable, it can be a comfort when the child is anxious.
- The child can express fear or unhappiness by drawing a face on the doll. Also, the child can mark on the doll the injury or pain he or she feels.
- The doll can help the child describe any abuse they may have experienced. They can mark where they were touched or hurt. This allows adults to discuss concerns or pains more objectively with the child.
Accepting the 90 dolls Tuesday, Lance Cpl. Amy Vicks, crime prevention officer for the North Myrtle Beach Police Department, said items such as the dolls or teddy bears help create a bond between the police and a child during trying times.
Vicks said officers carry them in the cars to have available for children for situations such as accidents and domestic dispute calls. She said sometimes the children have to go with the police and it gives them a sense of security.
She added that some of the dolls will be donated to the Children’s Recovery Center.
“Being able to draw on the doll can help the CRC, especially in abuse cases,” she said.