Teddy Bear Drive for Missing Children
Emily Valentino, a 5th grade student at Green Hills Elementary School, has received permission to bring a unique project to the Newton Schools which will raise awareness while helping others. In honor of National Missing Children’s Day which is May 25th, Emily, with the assistance of the Newton FIRST Varsity Robotics Team and local law enforcement, will be remembering all those missing by holding a Teddy Bear Drive.
The Teddy Bear is the symbol used nationally for the missing. Teddy Bears donated to this cause “ride along” with the officers in their patrol cars. When a child is lost or experiences any sort of traumatic occurrence, and law enforcement is called in to help with the situation, the child is given a Teddy Bear to help ease their stress and let them know someone cares.
Emily and the Newton FIRST Varsity Robotics Team are asking members of our community to donate new Teddy Bears to our three local law enforcement agencies for their “Ride Along” programs. Beginning Monday, May 6th, boxes for the collection of the bears will be in the front foyers of the Halsted, Merriam, Florence M. Burd, Newton High School, Green Hills Elementary, and Long Pond schools and can be given to team members. Emily will be presenting the bears to the Sussex County Sheriff’s Department, Newton Police Department, and the Andover Police Department on the 24th of May at Green Hills School.
Emily’s aunt, Allison Jackson Foy, went missing in July of 2006 and was recovered almost two years later with the help of the CUE (Community United Effort) Center for Missing Persons. Emily understands how painful a journey can be for the families of those who have gone missing and for young children suddenly finding themselves in stressful and unfamiliar situations. Teddy Bears are just a small but valuable step in helping young children cope with very adult issues.
The Missing is a silent crisis in this country with reports of missing persons exceeding 800,000 annually and leaving a path of devastation for the thousands of families left behind not knowing the fate of their loved ones. An average of 2,000 children disappear per day in the United States alone. The Valentino family knows firsthand that not knowing where ones loved one is, or if they are okay, is the hardest part.
Anyone can go missing at anytime. Remind young children of safe practices that can help keep them from harm. Let them know that if they see or hear something they should go to an adult right away and report it. There are simple, free kits available for parents and guardians to record children’s fingerprints and DNA.
Those families wishing to donate funds are encouraged to make a check payable to CUE for Missing Persons and mail it to Lisa Valentino at 40 Hunts School Road, Newton, NJ, 07860. CUE is a national nonprofit organization that helps the missing and their families through search, advocacy, education, support, and much more. All monies raised from this drive will go directly to CUE to aid in the search for the missing and help families get the answers and resolution they seek for their missing loved one. For more information on CUE please visit www.ncmissingpersons.org