Field moms to deliver 'Hugs' to Connecticut children

By Rachel Hagenbaugh | Staff Writer Published:

Five moms from the Field School District are holding a teddy bear drive called "Operation Hugs" to show their support and condolences for the children affected by Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"We wanted to do something for the kids," said Brimfield resident Becky Ward. "I have three children, and it could have been any of them. We would hope someone would show the same care and compassion for our children that we're doing for them."

Ward and the other moms began brainstorming ideas on community Facebook pages and decided Saturday to collect teddy bears, each of which will represent "a hug from our town," Ward said.

So far, the moms have collected about 200 teddy bears and are expecting more. Ward said the Portage County Toys For Tots usually has an excess of teddy bears each year that are donated to other organizations. This year, they will be donating the extra bears to "Operation Hugs." Steve Foutty, a member of the Charity Masonic Lodge, dropped off 100 bears at the Brimfield Police Department Wednesday. They collected the bears to "put a smile on a child's face, if only for a moment."

Monetary donations to cover funeral expenses and cards are also being accepted. Donations can be dropped off at the Brimfield Police Department, 1287 Tallmadge Road, Suffield Fire Department, 1256 Waterloo Road and the Game Rack, 1747 Goodyear Blvd. in Akron. The teddy bears donated need to be new with the tags still attached to them.

The United Way of Western Connecticut has set up a fund in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank for those who wish to provide assistance to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. Donations can be made out to Sandy Hook School Support Fund and mailed to Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, Conn. 06470. Ward also set up a savings account at Hometown Bank, 4023 S.R. 43, where donations can be made under the account name Operation Hugs. After donations have been made, Ward will turn the money in the savings account into a bank check issued straight to the United Way account.

The deadline for donations is Dec. 22, but Ward said she will be available to pick up donations until Dec. 26 for residents who can't make it to one of the drop-off stations.

Two of the five moms, Ward and Suffield resident Jennifer Newpher, and two Field High School football coaches will drive about 500 miles to Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 27 to deliver the gifts to the town's police department.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1123 or rhagenbaugh@recordpub.com

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