COVINGTON, Ga. — Something as simple as a plush teddy bear can help put a rattled child at ease, Covington Police Lt. Allen Martin said.
Knowing this, a city government leadership group donated more than 200 stuffed animals Thursday to Piedmont Newton Hospital and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to help comfort such children in crisis.
The City of Covington Management Development Program Class of 2022 conducted a stuffed animal drive over the month of April as a class project. Martin said the idea for the project came after a classmate’s family recently received care at the hospital.
“One of the students in the class ended up in the hospital with their child, and as a token during that whole situation, someone brought a stuffed animal to her child,” he recalled. “So we thought, ‘You know, why don’t we replenish their supply?’”
Martin said the group reached out to the hospital and sheriff’s office to make arrangements.
At the hospital, stuffed animals are used to help comfort children recovering from surgery, who are being seen in the emergency room or may be involved in a traumatic experience. Martin said the same could be applied for law enforcement situations.
“I know from my experience on the road, if we have a traumatic experience such as a domestic violence incident, we can always pass out these stuffed animals and know what kind of impact it has,” he said.
Martin said the group was able to surpass its goal of 150 to collect a total of 210 stuffed animals to be divided between Piedmont Newton Hospital and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Deliveries were made Thursday morning.
Piedmont Newton Hospital CEO David Kent was appreciative of the donation. He called it a thoughtful gesture by city government employees.
“Our families and kids will love this,” he said. “We’ve got a great relationship with the city of Covington — not just the police but across the board — and we’re just happy to serve you all … Thank you so much.”
The Covington Management Development Program Class of 2022 includes 20 employees across all departments within the city government, Martin said. The program is provided through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia and is designed to develop “personal and group leadership skills and knowledge relevant to successful local government operations.”