Dr. Jack Landham, pastor of Pine Bower, along with church member Linda Blankenship delivered the bears, the majority of them brand new, on Friday, May 28.
According to Wills, he now has more than enough to place one bear inside each of the 21 marked units to give out to children caught in the middle of situations involving police.
Landham said he is gracious for the support from the community, as many of the bears came from people outside his congregation.
The church held its first Teddy Bear collection picnic on May 16. Rain caused the event to be moved indoors, but didn’t stop people from donating. Landham stated that the donations have kept coming in since then.
Blankenship, Sunday school teacher at Pine Bower, is in charge of the program and said that it could continue indefinitely as long as donations keep being made. She expects the church to hold another collection day soon.
Wills expressed his gratitude to Landham and Blankenship, as well as those who have donated. “Without community help, we are no good.”
The bears, Wills said, are greatly needed. Polk County Police continue to deal with a rise in domestic violence cases in which children are often caught in the middle, leaving them feeling frightened and confused.
“Sometimes police are called into a domestic situation, and children may be separated from their parents for a few days,” Landham said.
The goal of placing the teddy bears inside of the patrol units, according to Landham, is to comfort children in these domestic violence situations and allow them to focus their attention elsewhere.
Domestic violence is a growing problem in Polk County. In 2003, Our House – the Polk County Women’s Shelter – provided refuge to 185 women and 152 children. To date, the shelter has issued a total of 312 temporary and protective orders.
The issue has even caused Polk County to form a domestic violence task force, which focuses on keeping victims safe and holding those charged with battery accountable for their actions.
While Landham realized collecting teddy bears for every county patrol car was a major undertaking for a small church like Pine Bower, he said that his congregation was stepping out in faith to achieve the goal.
“We don’t know how God is going to use this,” he said. We are stepping out in faith and if we can help some children along the way, that is what we want to do.”
According to Wills, some of the teddy bears will be kept at the station as well, as children are sometimes brought there.
Landham stated that he prefers new teddy bears to be donated, but explained that older bears in good condition, as well as cash donations, will also be accepted.
Wills stated that a similar program was successfully conducted a number of years ago and expects the one conducted by Pine Bower to make a difference as well.
“To know that you’ve got somebody out there that wants to help you feels good,” Wills said.
Anyone wishing to donate a teddy bear or make a cash donation can call Pine Bower at 770-748-3252. Teddy Bears can also be brought directly to the Polk County Police Department located at 1676 Rockmart Highway.