“I need to take Ted out of my car” I thought as I pulled into the parking lot of the Largo Room of Hope. I had been so busy that I had not had time to take Ted to the Room of Hope since a donor had given him to me a week ago. Ted was a medium sized brown teddy bear wearing a little jacket. Over the past week Ted had become something of a companion. Sometimes I found myself talking to him as I drove from meeting to meeting. “Our time together is over” I said to Ted as I put him in a bag with some other donations and headed into the building.
While I was stocking the shelves, two children and their two relative caregivers came in with a Child Protective Investigator. I knew from experience that the children had just been removed from their home due to some type of abuse or neglect. The girl was 9 years old (Ciara) and the boy was 14 years old (Jamal). The investigator helped them pick out what they needed while I continued working. They spent about 30 minutes filling the kids’ duffel bags with new clothes, shoes and toiletries….all items they didn’t have when removed from their parents’ home.
Jamal and his aunt finished first, and I overheard them start to say goodbye to his sister Ciara…and she started to cry. The adults assured her she that would see Jamal soon. At that point I realized the kids were being separated. My heart hurt seeing Ciara’s face covered in quiet tears.
And then I remembered Ted. He was sitting right where I left him, on a stand by the front door, about 3 feet from Ciara. I took him off the stand and offered him to her. She hugged him and looked at her grandma for approval. Grandma was hesitant at first because she felt they had already taken so much from the Room of Hope. I assured her it was fine. I then told Ciara how he had been my co-pilot for the last week. “And now he’s yours. Take care of him for me” I said.
Ciara then handed Ted back to me and asked if I would like to say goodbye. I gave Ted a big hug and handed him back. Grandma asked me my name; “Kelly” I replied. She said the bear would be named “Kelvin” after me. Tears filled my eyes as I watched them leave and Ciara waved to me with Ted now Kelvin in her arms.
Our Hope Raisers make heartwarming moments like this possible. Unfortunately, more kids like Ciara need help and comfort every day. Get involved!
Visit www.eckerd.org/raisinghope to find out which way to help works best for you!