Where there are no puppies, new clothes

This is an article that I wrote for the Bucks County Courier last year. It was titled WHERE THERE ARE NO PUPPIES, NEW CLOTHES. (Please re-tweet or Facebook our need to your friends.)

Believe it or not, we are out of stuffed animals and lap blankets for seniors. I had two bags left and tonight I went through them  and sadly, they are not in the new and gently used condition that we need for our visits. The senior healthcare facilities are very particular about the condition of the stuffed animals, due to hygiene issues. So, we ask that the ones that you donate are of the same quality that you would give to your good friend or loved one.

Contact: Patricia Gallagher BA, MBA
Cell: 267 939 0365
http://www.storiesforseniors.wordpress.com
storiesforseniors@gmail.com

Bucks County Courier Times

By PATRICIA GALLAGHER

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The youth group from Kol Emet synagogue collected 700 stuffed animals for me. Now I had to decide where to take them.

I visit WWII vets and seniors living in nursing home facilities. Most of the residents are in wheelchairs – with big wheels, metal sides and brakes, far removed from the way they used to get around. They often need a gift of hope, and maybe just a token of encouragement. That is why we give each resident a furry stuffed animal. How wonderful a soft stuffed animal is to cuddle with!

Many of their recent memories are of loss – the loss of a spouse, loss of limbs, loss of the family homestead. Loss of traditions in the old neighborhood – noisemakers heralding the New Year, homemade birthday cakes, family reunions at a park, or sitting on the porch with a bowl of just-picked fresh strawberries.

When one of the youth group coordinators contacted me about her desire to have the students collect stuffed animals, she quoted Mother Teresa. She wanted the kids to know that they could make a difference in the world in small ways. “Like a ripple effect, all of their small deeds can make the world a better place.”

Something was telling me that some of these stuffed animals had a special mission. A mission to help children, not seniors. But where should I take them?

I drove to Norristown and knocked on the door of the Missionaries of Charity shelter. Sister Mary Joel opened the door cautiously. She wore a habit like Mother Teresa, a white robe with a blue striped band around the veil on her headpiece. I held several bags filled to overflowing with stuffed animals and asked the Sister if the children would like them. She inquired, “Are they clean?”

I joyously opened the bag and displayed about 50 new and nearly new stuffed animals. There was another woman with Sister and she beamed at the bounty from the children in Yardley. You see, the people living here are homeless.

Advertisement Not even a sink with sudsy water and the essentials of their own home or apartment. No children complaining, “I have nothing to wear in my closet” because they do not even have a closet.

No energetic new pups to take care of. No mom or dad, up at five in the morning driving to a corporate job. No cluster of beautiful houses or plots of land with wooden swing sets. No waffles and OJ sitting on a table in a sunny kitchen. No photos of family adorning the walls.

These are often desperate mothers, living in poverty – who do not have credit cards, trombone lessons to offer their kids, piano lessons at home, lavish birthday and bar-mitzvah parties and certainly no trips planned for other hemispheres.

I am sure that the mothers living in the shelter will take a stuffed animal with tears in their eyes, and hug their child, with the same love as the parents in Richboro, Yardley, Newtown and Holland and all of the other Bucks County towns.

Helping others is an idea that never goes out of style! Mother Teresa said, “The cup of water that you give to the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way you teach an ignorant child…the joy with which you smile at your own at home – all this is God’s love in the world today.”

I would like to add to that. Like the way the youth group teacher helped. “The way that you teach children to think of others who do not have the material possessions that you have….the way that a teacher guides her students in their formative years to think of the needs of others… the way that a synagogue is teaching students to make the world a better place, one stuffed animal at a time.”

The teacher was looking for an opportunity for her students to help. I think the little stuffed animals led the way. Yes, the 700 lions and tigers and bears and ducks and pigs…oh my!

August 02, 2010 02:10 AM

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