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‘I just want to bring a smile to their faces’

Brittany Craig, Benton High School senior, helps Deputy Robert Teague of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. Jeff Pleasants (background) with gathering stuffed animals that will be given to children in times of distress. (Lt. Bill Davis/Bossier Sheriff's Office)

Benton teen donates 1,000 stuffed animals to local children

A school senior project dealing with the effects of child abuse led a Benton High School student to donate 1,000 stuffed animals to children in the community.

Brittany Craig, 17, started a stuffed animal drive in order to help children during times of distress, and Friday, she donated the stuffed animals to the Bossier Sheriff’s Office to give to local kids.

Craig says she wants to be a teacher or coach and realizes the importance of understanding the warning signs of child abuse. She said stuffed animals can be a calming effect on children during traumatic or stressful times.

“I just wanted to bring a smile to their face to give them a stuffed animal and show them someone cared enough,” the high school softball star catcher said.

Deputies with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office loaded the stuffed animals into their patrol cars, and they will distribute them to children in the community during their calls for service, especially during cases involving domestic violence, sexual offenses or death, traffic accident or any other distressing time for a child.

Media - Craig

Deputy Butch Smith, school resource officer at Benton High School for seven years, is not surprised at Brittany’s desire to help others.

“She is a special young lady and a leader on campus and on the softball team,” Smith said. “She’s the type you don’t need to prod…she has initiative. She wanted to find some way to touch the lives of children and give them hope.” She’s the kind of young lady Smith said “You would be proud to say, ‘That’s my daughter’.”

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington is grateful for Brittany’s commitment to help others.

“When our deputies come across children during their calls for service, the children are often frightened and confused,” Sheriff Whittington said. “These stuff animals are the perfect thing a deputy can present to a child to help divert their attention from the crisis at hand and calm the child.”

Brittany collected the stuffed animals from students, faculty, friends and parents at Benton High School and Benton Elementary School and received all donations in about a week.

In April, members of the Student Nurses’ Association at Bossier Parish Community College also presented stuffed animals to the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.