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Teddy bear drive at PHCC collects 700 to comfort kids

Damyn and Tiffany Szatkowski look up at Spring Hill Fire Rescue assistant Chief Kevin Carroll as he accepts teddy bears collected by Pasco-Hernando Community College’s Psi Beta Honor Society, Psychology Club and International Club at the Spring Hill campus. Associate provost Bonnie Clark, left, looks on. Joining Carroll in accepting the bears are Capt. Gary Peterson and firefighter/paramedic Jason Haas, right.

Courtesy of John Stalter

Damyn and Tiffany Szatkowski look up at Spring Hill Fire Rescue assistant Chief Kevin Carroll as he accepts teddy bears collected by Pasco-Hernando Community College’s Psi Beta Honor Society, Psychology Club and International Club at the Spring Hill campus. Associate provost Bonnie Clark, left, looks on. Joining Carroll in accepting the bears are Capt. Gary Peterson and firefighter/paramedic Jason Haas, right.

SPRING HILL — Teddy bears. The soft, cuddly stuffed toys just seem to exude the best kind of comfort. They are sometimes used to help calm children in times of great trauma and stress.

There was a collection of them last spring at the new Pasco-Hernando Community College Spring Hill campus through the efforts of the Psi Beta Honor Society, the Psychology Club and the International Club. The adviser of all three is psychology and sociology associate professor Janet Paskins.

"We're very eager to be a community partner and not just an educational facility," Paskins said. "We try to find ways to outreach to the community."

One such way was the bear collection, which was presented to the Spring Hill Fire Rescue district on Aug. 25.

The Teddy Bear Drive resulted in the accumulation of more than 700 bears during a one-month period. "We certainly far exceeded our expectations," Paskins said. "It turned into something that touched everyone's heart."

There were about 25 students from the three organizations directly involved in getting the word out. They put up and distributed fliers, including bringing attention to themselves while walking through the halls holding teddy bears and handing out the fliers.

The leaders were Alex Bara, Psi Beta Honor Society president, Katelyn Mauro, Psychology Club president, Troy Rosebeck, International Club president and Indy Szatkowski, secretary of all three groups.

Paskins involved her on-line students, too.

"I got bears from as far away as Iraq and North Carolina," she said.

The student in Iraq contacted family in the states to collect bears and the North Carolina student sent some to Florida and donated some locally.

Some working students collected bears at their job sites. One student collected three bags full of bears.

"I got e-mails from students saying, 'This is such a great program. How can I help?' " Paskins said. "Nobody saw a boundary on this."

Teddy bear drive at PHCC collects 700 to comfort kids 08/31/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 4:59pm]
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