A few weeks ago, there were 65 bears who weren't hibernating for the winter. They were part of a donation to Akron Children's Hospital from the Knights of Columbus, Council 13977 at St. Joseph Church in Austintown.
The members of the council delivered the bears on Dec. 20. They were presented to Suzanne Heher from Volunteer Services who accepted them for the hospital's Boardman campus. The timing was perfect as the council wanted to ensure the children who would be hospitalized over Christmas would have one to cuddle on Dec. 24.
"This is the first time we went with one organization for this type of drive," said Austintown Knights member Donald Carney. "Our acts of charity and charitable donations are done year round, not only with funds but also man hours of work."
Photos special to the Town Crier
John R. Rozzo, Don Carney, Suzanne Heher from Volunteer Services, Don Bevington, Thomas Williams and Marty Greggo clutch some of the 65 teddy bears that were donated by the Knights of Columbus, Council number 13977 at St. Joseph Church on New Road to Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman.
He said the Austintown Knights work with the St.Vincent De Paul society on such things as assisting with food giveaways to needy families, the society's food drive in October each year, the walk for the poor held in September of each year, and the society's sharing tree at Christmastime to provide clothing and gifts for families in need. Items also go to inner city children in need, and any other program that the society holds.
"We have also assisted the Dorothy Day house in Youngstown, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and fundraiser dinners such as for Ed Port and the Norris family who lost a husband/father at a very young age due to cancer," Carney said. "So as you can see our council's acts of charity expand the entire year and are wide and varied."
He said during the Christmas season, the Austintown Knights came up with the idea to do something for the hospitalized children. Donations were taken from every one of 45 members of the Knights at St. Joseph Church. They had collected enough to purchase the 65 bears at $20 each from Avon products, which in turn made up the donation.
"When several members of our Council presented the bears to the staff at the hospital, we received such heartfelt thank yous from Suzanne Heher and other staff members that it touched us so deeply," Carney said. "Right then and there we decided that we are going to make this a yearly drive for the children at the hospital and expand it so that more teddy bears can be purchased and given out. We have plans on expanding this program and we are setting our sites to double the amount of bears this year."