Stuffed-animal drive aims to calm local kids during emergencies |

Stuffed-animal drive aims to calm local kids during emergencies

summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY – When children are involved in an emergency situation, there’s no question of their fear, confusion and anxiety.

To help calm kids involved in scary circumstances locally, a stuffed-animal drive is collecting toys to be given out as “hugs” by local first-responders.

“Whether it’s a young child that’s part of an emergency or a patient, they’re always affected by what’s going on,” said Red, White and Blue Fire District Chief Gary Green. “For responders, law enforcement, fire or ambulance, if you spend time talking to (the children), or if you have a small stuffed animal that you can comfort them with, it can ease the situation, make them feel more comfortable, and help them see that we’re there to help.”

The Handing Out Hugs stuffed-animal collection is now accepting new and slightly-used toys. Drop boxes are located at every Summit County Alpine Bank – Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Copper. Organizer Kelly Butler said she’s also available to pick up donations.

“I started the program because I have three kids myself, and I was looking to get rid of our stuffed animals,” said Butler. “I heard about a similar program. Our mission statement is that we’re dedicated to calming children caught in an emergency.”

Though the program is new to the county, Butler said she’s already received extremely generous donations.

“I have bags of stuffed animals, which is so nice,” she said. “I hope to get as many animals as possible to replenish the trunks of the (emergency) vehicles so they have these stuffed animals to hand out. We will do it throughout the summer, and see where it goes from there.

During the school year, Butler said she would like to get students involved in the project.

“Unfortunately the need will never run out,” she added. “That’s an important thing to remember.”

For more information, contact Butler at (970) 389-6063 or

SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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