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Community begins teddy bear drive for Newtown survivors

Twenty white balloons float above a field on Ridgefield Road in memory of the children killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. —Toni McKeen photo

Twenty white balloons float above a field on Ridgefield Road in memory of the children killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The sign reads In Memory. —Toni McKeen photo

Julie Butler, a staff writer at The Bulletin’s sister paper, the New Canaan Advertiser, was contacted as news of the Newtown school shootings spread by a friend who lives near Sacramento, Calif., area with an offer of help and comfort via “Operation Fuzzy Wuzzy II.”

Bears will be donated to children of Newtown as the town deals with the massacre of 26 people, mostly children.

“My friend Deborah Johns, whom I have known since 2006, when our Marine Corps sons were both deployed in the same unit to Iraq, contacted me today [Friday, Dec. 14] to say she wanted to help the students who lost their friends, classmates and teachers in Newtown,” Ms. Butler said. “She wrote to me: ‘Adam [her late son] held Operation Fuzzy Wuzzy nine years ago when the school shooting took place in Bezlan, Russia. He collected teddy bears for the children of the school, so that they could have some comfort when they returned to school from that tragic shooting. I want to do the same for Newtown … can you help me coordinate it there?’ It was an absolute no-brainer to say ‘yes.’”

• If you plan a collection or memorial for Newtown families, please send details to editor@wiltonbulletin.com.

Ms. Johns’s son, Adam, died in March of 2011. In his memory and with his friends from Granite Bay High School in Granite Bay, Calif., she is coordinating a teddy bear drive this weekend. She will send the bears East, so Ms. Butler can get them — and ones that she collects as well —to Newtown for distribution to the young, grieving students in that town.

At this point, there are two teddy bear drop off sites in New Canaan — the New Canaan Advertiser’s office at 42 Vitti St., between 9-5, Monday through Friday, and the Mobil station on South Avenue, which is open 24/7. They can be donated between now and Friday, Dec. 28.

Bears may also be dropped off at Hersam Acorn’s office, 1000 Bridgeport Ave., second floor, Shelton, starting Monday, Dec. 17. Any business or organization wishing to serve as a collection site or needs to arrange a collection should contact John Kovach at jkovach@hersamacorn.com.

Bears may be donated until Friday, Dec. 28.

More sites will be posted as they are established.

“I realize that Operation Fuzzy Wuzzy — giving a child a teddy bear — may only be a small act of comfort for these traumatized children, but I think any and all acts of kindness can only help these poor kids as they move forward,” Ms. Butler said. “As a parent, this shooting is gut-wrenching when you think about the parents of those 20 children whose lives were cut so suddenly, viciously and horrifyingly short. And it feels just as awful to imagine what will go on inside the hearts and minds of the students who will have to walk through the doors of their school again. Having a stuffed animal waiting there — a ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ — just seems like a good idea. I am so grateful for Deborah for this.”

Information can be obtained from Ms. Butler at jbutler@ncadvertiser.com.

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