Project Smile seeks volunteers and donations to help traumatized kids
By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Region – For a child, a situation such as an accident, fire, serious illness or domestic violence, ?can, of course, be extremely traumatic. And often times, when a police officer or firefighter responds to that situation, the child's level of fright and stress increases. But thanks to a nonprofit Hopedale-based group, Project Smile, many emergency responders across the state now have another comforting way to help those kids – a gently used stuffed animal. And sometimes that can make all the difference in how the child gets through the event.
Project Smile (www.projectsmile.org) takes donations of stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, small toys and books, and distributes them to police and fire departments. Locally, it has donated to departments in Northborough, Southborough and Westborough. Recently the group made a donation to the Massachusetts State Police.
Catherine Pisacane, Project Smile's executive director, started the organization in 2003.
“Project Smile was born after I read a newspaper article about three brothers in New Jersey who were starved by their adoptive parents. When the police arrived to remove the brothers from the house, an officer gave one of the children a small stuffed tiger that he had with him. The child clung to it during his entire time at the police station and refused to let it go,” she said. “After reading about that, I wanted to start a program which would allow as many police officers as possible to have something to give to a hurting child.”
Pisacane is currently seeking volunteers who would like to be featured in the group's 2013 calendar.
“The calendar features photos of happy children with stuffed animals. We usually do the photos outdoors, at the participating family's residence or at a local park,” she said. “All ages are welcome to participate.”
The names of the children are not printed in the calendar, she added.
Profits from the calendar help to cover the expenses associated with collecting, cleaning, storing and distributing the materials.
Pisacane is also seeking businesses or organizations that would like to help by sponsoring a month in the calendar. The cost to do so is $300 or $150 for co-sponsoring with another organization. For more information, contact Pisacane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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