Butterfly Bridge receives teddy bear donation

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jennifer Carter and her 3-year-old grandson, Cooper Gray, donated 50 teddy bears to Butterfly Bridge Children's Advocacy Center this week.

Jennifer Carter and her 3-year-old grandson, Cooper Gray (pictured), donated 50 teddy bears to Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center this week.

Ona Lee Jones enjoyed making sure children were happy.

“My mother was the type of person who spent her life taking care of other people,” Jennifer Carter said of Jones. “She loved kids.”

Jones passed away in October 2013 at the age of 86 and left behind numerous stuffed animals she had collected throughout the years.

“When she passed away my sister and I were cleaning out her house and came across all of these stuffed teddy bears she had in her home,” Carter said. “We had no idea she had that many bears.”

Although Carter was aware that her mother would often purchase stuffed animals at yard sales or thrift stores and bring them home to be washed with “tons of fabric softeners to make them soft,” Carter didn’t know her mother had so many stuffed bears stored at her home.

Carter brought all of the bears to her house and washed them the same way her mother often did—with enough fabric softeners to make the bears soft—and donated them with her 3-year-old grandson, Cooper Gray, to Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center this week.

Jana Zuelzke, Executive Director/Child Forensic Interview Specialist with Butterfly Bridge, said the first time a child or teen comes to the center is because they are being interviewed about abuse allegations after a report has been made to the proper authorities.

“Each child who comes for the initial forensic interview is able to choose a special teddy bear to take home with them,” Zuelzke said. “It is a source of comfort for the children.”

Carter said Cooper wanted to donate the teddy bears from his great-grandmother due to understanding the teddy bears will benefit other children who are hurting.

“Cooper understands there are kids who need them, and they need love,” Carter said. “He thinks the children need love from the teddy bears.”

Carter said Jones mostly collected teddy bears although she loved stuffed rabbits.

“There was one time when a little boy had been badly burned and he was staying at the hospital in Chilton County,” Carter said. “His family was unable to visit him so my mother went to the fair and won a teddy bear, tied big ribbons around his neck and she took the bear to the burn unit because she thought that was the thing to do.”

Carter said Jones previously donated part of her collection of teddy bears to Butterfly Bridge roughly a year ago.

“She donated about 20 bears before she passed away,” Carter said. “The first time she donated bears she had heard that Butterfly Bridge was running low on stuffed animals. She told me we could do something about that so we donated the teddy bears.”

Carter estimates roughly 50 bears were donated to Butterfly Bridge this week.

“It would make my mother so happy to know that her teddy bear collection was going to help children who are going through a difficult time,” Carter said.

Zuelzke said it was a special donation and Cooper at his young age realized the teddy bears had a special purpose for other children who will come to Butterfly Bridge.

“Thanks to them, we are well-stocked,” Zuelzke said.

For more information about donating stuffed bears to Butterfly Bridge, contact (205) 755-4205 or visit www.butterflybridgecac.org.