ATHENS — The W.I.N.G.S (When Individuals Need Gifts of Support) Foundation is hosting a Chinese Auction this Saturday at the Athens American Legion in an effort to raise money for “The Teddy Bear Project.”
“The Teddy Bear Project,” according to a W.I.N.G.S. Foundation press release, is an effort to purchase Teddy Bears for O’Bleness Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room. The bears will be given to children who pass through the emergency room as a patient or as a family member with a loved one in the hospital.
According to the release, in the midst of a chaotic E.R. situation, especially involving trauma, there is a chance a child will be overlooked or taken aside as adults deal with the issues at hand. Because of this, Teddy Bears can offer the comfort a child needs during the potentially traumatic visit.
The idea came from Debra Cochran, whose daughter, Lauren, now 16, received a Teddy Bear in the emergency room 10 years ago when Lauren’s sister, Kimberly, now 20, was in an accident that left her with lasting brain damage.
Lauren said the bear provided her with comfort when she was pushed aside during the chaos in the E.R.
“When I got my bear it was like my friend, not just my stuff animal,” Lauren said. “It helped me get through with my sister and everything going on with her.”
Debra said the hospital visit gave her the idea foundation long ago, but she was only able to make her dream a reality in March.
“God kind of laid this on my heart,” she said. “He’d been working on my heart seven days a week, but I didn’t have time to devote to it, so it kind of shifted. But then I got laid off and God’s like, ‘What’s your excuse now, Debra?’ So we kind of jumped in with both feet.”
Debra, her boyfriend Fred Mathias, and Lauren are the three main foundation workers, with Kimberly contributing when she is able.
Currently, the W.I.N.G.S. Foundation is seeking donation of merchandise items, gift certificates and financial support for the Chinese Auction this Saturday. All donations are tax deductible and the foundation is a non-profit organization. Debra hopes to raise $10,000 this weekend, and encouraged anyone who wants to donate but cannot attend the event to donate at Gofundme.com.
“We’ve been very surprised how giving people have been, and how supportive people have been because it involves a hospital and children,” Debra said. “People have stepped up to support this and it’s really just heartwarming.”
For more information, please call Debra Cochran at 740-331-0806 or Fred Mathias at 740-818-7995.