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Helping them to bear up
HOPE aims to comfort families helped by Victim/Witness
teddy bears 1
Displaying some of the teddy bears donated to the Effingham Victim/Witness Assistance Program by HOPE (Helping Out Pets in Effingham) are, left to right, Heather Wadrose, EVWAP victim services coordinator; Pat Manser, HOPE founder; Susie Jenkins, HOPE volunteer and coordinator of the teddy bear fundraiser; and Ann Resto, EVWAP executive director. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

A simple act of kindness can go a long way in helping someone — particularly a child — through a tough time.

With that in mind, the organization Helping Out Pets in Effingham (HOPE) delivered 18 teddy bears Friday to the Effingham Victim/Witness Assistance Program. The cuddly companions will be given to children of families helped by EVWAP.

“We’re hoping the bear will bring some comfort for a child who’s in a difficult situation,” said HOPE founder Pat Manser.

“A lot of the children who come in here are not necessarily the victims,” said EVWAP victim services coordinator Heather Wadrose. “It’s normally their parent who is the victim, but they’re still, to a degree, a victim, and this will certainly help to being a smile to their faces.”

EVWAP is a non-profit organization that provides services to victims and witnesses of crimes such as armed robbery, assault, rape, child molestation and domestic violence. Services range from arranging for a temporary protective order to providing a referral for counseling.

“Typically our clients are victims of domestic abuse,” said EVWAP executive director Ann Resto. “So (the children) may not have been abused themselves, but, if they witness it, that takes a toll on them.”

The idea for the teddy bear donation came from HOPE volunteer Susie Jenkins, Manser said. Jenkins sold the bears for $22 apiece through Avon, with a portion of the proceeds going to HOPE’s efforts to rescue and treat abused and neglected animals.

The remainder of the funds were used to buy as many teddy bears as possible for Effingham Victim/Witness Assistance. Manser and Wadrose met at a local pit bull awareness event in the fall, and Manser thought EVWAP would be the ideal organization to support.

“We appreciate Pat’s generosity,” Wadrose said. “Of all the different organizations in Effingham County, she thought of us.”

The organizers held the fundraiser during the holiday season, collecting donations through word-of-mouth and by setting up shop at Tractor Supply in Rincon and the Animal Hospital at Rice Hope. Some people donated the entire cost of a bear while others chipped in a few dollars.

 “We even had one lady who donated a bear in memory of her passed-away animal,” Manser said.

Resto thanked everyone involved for their efforts to support children of families dealing with the pain of a violent crime.

“We are the recipient of their hard work,” she said.

About Victim/Witness
For more information about the Effingham Victim/Witness Assistance Program, call 754-7460 or visit