Some 8- and 9-year-olds have been scouting around for stuffed animals this holiday season — not for themselves, but for children who are patients in OU Medical Center's Trauma One Center.
The effort, dubbed “Scouting for Bears” by leaders of Oakdale's Cub Scout Pack 341, Wolf Den 2 is off to a fast start. Already, more than 100 cuddly critters have been acquired, said Den 2 leader Todd Corbin.
Joining the Cub Scouts in the hunt are 18 Brownies from Girl Scout Troop 3386. Members of both groups attend Oakdale School, 10901 N Sooner Road.
“The kids realize that there are other kids out there they can help,” Corbin said. “This is a project done by kids, for kids, and I think it will come out really great.”
Corbin said the goal is to acquire as many as 400 new stuffed animals for young patients who go through the Trauma One Center in Oklahoma City, then continue their recovery at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center.
Wolf Den 2 is made up of 11 boys, Corbin said.
Corbin is married to Dr. Victoria Corbin, an emergency room physician at the Trauma One Center. Two of the Corbins' four children are 8-year-old twins; Jack is a member of Den 2, and Lily is a Brownie in Girl Scout Troop 3386.
The two groups held a joint meeting in December to get the drive started, and Corbin said just before Christmas they had collected about 125 new stuffed animals. About $150 in cash to buy more stuffed animals also had been collected, he said.
Corbin said Wolf Den 2 leaders are hoping to arrange delivery by a medical helicopter once the goal is reached.
The trauma center sees about 400 children every year, Corbin said, which is why the goal of 400 stuffed animals was chosen.
In launching the drive, he explained to the Cub Scouts and Brownies that young patients who go through the Trauma Center need “big-time help to help them get better,” and the stuffed animals will play a part in their recovery.
Wolf Den 2 leader Jerome Loughridge said “Scouting for Bears” fits nicely with the Cub Scout charter that calls for community service.
“This is kids helping kids,” Loughridge said. “If these children can wake up from surgery and find these animals waiting for them, it'll help them.”
Dr. T.R. Lewis is an orthopedic surgeon at Children's Hospital whose daughter, Emma, is a member of the Brownies group. He sees many young trauma patients each year.
“If they can get a gift like this, it will help them,” Lewis said. “It's a little bit scary when they wake up. Having something familiar like a stuffed animal will help them.”
Cyndi Basch, OU Medical Center Trauma Program manager, said that for several years, other volunteers helped the Trauma One Center maintain a supply of stuffed animals, but their supply of stuffed animals has dwindled. The project is a welcome development to help replenish the supply of therapeutic toys for the young patients, she said.
“It's scary coming into a hospital on a stretcher,” Basch said. “We can put a stuffed toy in bed with them and they can hold them.”
Julie Miller, leader of the Brownies group, said there is a lot of enthusiasm for the project.
“We're excited to be able to do this. It is an honor to give something back,” she said.
“We've got a bunch of go-getters and overachievers in this group. This is what they're in Girl Scouts to do.”
Avery Dunlap, 8, said she was anxious for the project to begin.
“The children will be really happy and they will have something to play with,” she said. “I'll talk to anyone I can.”
Madison Schmidt, 9, said she thinks hospital patients close to her age would welcome the presence of a stuffed toy.
“I think this is good for the kids,” she said. “It will make them feel happy.”
How to help
Corbin said launching the project during the Christmas season turned out to be a good decision.
Based on response so far, Corbin predicted the goal of 400 stuffed animals will be achieved by late January or early February.
Only new stuffed animals are being collected. They can be up to 12 inches long, “down to pocket size,” Corbin said.
For information on how to help with “Scouting for Bears,” contact Corbin at firstname.lastname@example.org.