Buckner's "Bear The Burden" Campaign Gets Boost From Baylor

  • News Photo 333
    (L to R) Marilyn Crone, Kenneth Hall and bear trainer Tyler Sellers introduce Joy to three of the teddy bears donated to Buckner's "Bear the Burden" campaign.
  • News Photo 332
    Baylor staff and students involved in Alumni in the Making pose with the 500 bears collected for Buckner's Bear the Burden campaign. Left to right are: Stephen Rylander, Brandon Tidwell, Corey Munn, Alana Lyons, Amanda Jackson, Rishi Sriram, Andy Wiltz, Sarah Beth Zwernemann, Bethany Connor and Johnny Kinnaird.
  • News Photo 322
    Buckner Benevolences President Kenneth L. Hall accepts Baylor's donation of 500 teddy bears to the "Bear the Burden" campaign.
May 6, 2002

by Lori Scott Fogleman

"Bear the Burden," a campaign led by Buckner Children and Family Services to collect stuffed teddy bears for abused and neglected children throughout Texas, received a big boost from some real bears May 3.

Baylor University students and staff members, accompanied by Joy, Baylor's 2-year-old bear mascot, journeyed to Dallas to deliver 500 teddy bears that were donated by fellow students, faculty and staff, and the university. Joy also "spread some joy" as she visited with a classroom full of children currently living at Buckner Children's Home.

"Baylor has a long history with Buckner, which are two of the oldest Baptist Christian mission organizations in Texas," said Marilyn A. Crone, vice president for human resources, who presented the teddy bears on behalf of Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "We are so glad that through 'Bear the Burden,' our students are now able to get involved in Buckner's mission. Our students are the heart of Baylor University, and we encourage their volunteer efforts in worthy programs like Buckner's."

The bears collected during "Bear the Burden" will be given to partnering agencies and organizations that work with the 50,000 children who suffer from confirmed cases of abuse and neglect each year in Texas. Officials estimate that another 200,000 cases are reported annually but are unconfirmed.

"I thank Baylor for showing these children in a tangible way that someone loves and cares for them," said Kenneth L. Hall, president of Buckner Benevolences. "Our goal and our prayer over the next year is that wherever there is a child in need, people in authority can provide them with this special gift."

Baylor's bear donation was presented to Lt. Ches Williams of the Dallas Police Department by Felipe Garza, Buckner's vice president for children and family services. Williams said the gift of one bear may seem "small," but the toy can make a "world of difference" when officers are working with children in crisis situations.

"These children find themselves in emotional situations, whether they've been abused or involved in a traffic accident. When officers can give them a bear, it gives the children some measure of comfort and confidence and a sense of stability," Williams said.

The Baylor students who made the trip are part of an undergraduate organization in the Baylor Alumni Association called Alumni in the Making, or AIM.

Johnny Kinnaird, a senior University Scholar from Fort Worth and AIM president, said he was amazed at how much a "small token like a teddy bear" can mean to a child, especially to those who have endured abuse and neglect. Kinnaird and the Baylor group toured Buckner's newest facilities following the bear presentation.

"The gift of a stuffed animal, coupled with the giver's sincere desire to truly help and care for that child, make the effort of collecting and distributing those teddy bears truly worthwhile," Kinnaird said. "Buckner's compassion and desire to care for children in need really comes out on their campus and in their staff, and I am thankful for the opportunity to assist in that ministry in some small part."

In addition to Kinnaird, other AIM students were Amanda Jackson, a senior education major from Austin; Alana Lyons, a senior journalism major from Garland; Corey Munn, a sophomore business major from Pasadena; Andy Wiltz, a entrepreneurship and economics major from Topeka, Kan.; and Sarah Beth Zwernemann, a sophomore French and business major from Tomball.

Staff members were Rishi Sriram, director of Alumni In the Making; Brandon Tidwell, a graduate student in the School of Social Work representing Student Involvement; Bethany Connor, assistant university host; and Stephen Rylander, director of online communications in the Baylor Office of Public Relations.

More than 3,000 bears have been donated by churches, civic clubs, schools and individuals throughout the state. The Baylor bear donation will push that number to the 4,000-bear mark.

"This shows the tremendous awareness these college students have for the needs of children in our state," said Wally Jeffers, director of community relations at Buckner. "We're so grateful to Baylor University for working with Buckner to provide these bears and to help increase the awareness of the needs of abused children."

Founded in 1879, Buckner is one of the oldest and largest non-profit organizations in Texas, with programs in 25 Texas communities. Buckner Children's Home in Dallas is the second oldest continuously operating business of any kind in the city.

For more information, call 1-866-BEAR-HELP or log on to www.beartheburden.org.

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