When a child has been through a traumatic event, a simple stuffed animal or coloring book can provide just enough distraction to let first responders take charge of the situation.
This is the idea behind Project Smile, a Massachusetts based non-profit organization. They provide toys, crayons, coloring books and reading books for police officers, paramedics and firefighters to give to children during emergency events such as accidents, being witness to a crime, crime victims, those coping with loss, among many other things.
Project Smile has found its way to Plattekill this year.
Barbara Terpening, a member of the Memorial United Methodist Church in Modena, first heard about Project Smile while flipping through “Woman’s World,” a magazine.
“The church was looking for something to do as a project this year and I picked up [Project Smile] and brought it to them,” says Terpening. “We decided that we would do what we could to gather some of the things needed and it sort of escalated. It from the church to my senior group, [Plattekill Golden Seniors], who asked if we could give some of what was collected to local Plattekill first responders, too.”
For Terpening, the idea behind Project Smile immediately clicked with her.
“In my family, I have a state police officer and a police officer that’s in the police force in Newburgh,” says Terpening. “I’ve heard from them the things that happen and how children are traumatized. We figured [Project Smile] would help children in the United States and locally.”
Terpening suggests donating coloring books and stuffed animals.
All donations will be divided between local first responders and first responders in Massachusetts.
Donations for Project Smile will be accepted until the end of this month and can be donated at the entrance of the United Methodist Church located at Highway 44-55, Modena.
By Jaspreet Gill