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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Care Bear Project Provides Support for Children in Crisis - 750 Stuffed Animals Donated to PGFD

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department received about 750 stuffed animals to be distributed to children affected during an emergency incident.  The person coordinating this generous and beneficial donation is a student at the University of Maryland in College Park and a volunteer with one our stations.  On Friday, December 5, she donated the stuffed animals to the Department.

Kassie Coulson is a junior at the University of Maryland in College Park.  She is 20 years old and a volunteer at the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. in Prince George’s County, MD. She started working with the Care Bear Project about 7 years ago through her church, Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church (LLUMC) in Howard County, Maryland when a senior leader came to her asking if she would be interested in assisting him with the collection of stuffed animals. At that time, all donations went to the Baltimore City Fire Department to carry on emergency apparatus to give to a child who may have been the victim or affected by a fire or any other incident. Soon thereafter, she became the leader of this project and in 6 years, gathering donations from the church, my 4-H group, and friends and family, we collected almost 7000 animals.

However, this year was a little different. The creation of the Maryland Open Horse Show Series (MOHSS), a series dedicated to growth and outreach, opened an opportunity to reach out to a more personal community. As a junior board member, it was her responsibility to find an organization or association and raise either monetary or object donations. She decided to reignite her Care Bear Project and bring it to the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. As a volunteer in the county she sees the need for comforting young children, she said, "The Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department runs a number of medical calls, and many times, children are the patients or families are displaced after a fire tears through an apartment complex or a home." After reaching out to various communities including the Maryland Open Horse Show Series, LLUMC, the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department and friends and family, Coulson was able to collect almost 800 stuffed animals to donate to the Prince George’s Fire/EMS Department to distribute to fire stations across the county.

Volunteer members of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad met at Coulson's off-campus apartment on Boetler Lane in College Park.  A Fire/EMS Department pick-up truck was loaded with a dozen or so large bags filled with stuffed animals.  Coulson had several bags loaded in her personal car and the convoy to the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building (FSB) in Landover Hills was on the road.  A contingent of firefighters and command officers met the group at the FSB to help unload the stuffed animals and ready them for distribution to the Departments 45 Fire/EMS Stations and commanders vehicles.

In making her donation, Coulson stated, "As children, our stuffed animals kept us safe and secure. This was the motivation for the project; to give a child something to hold onto when they are scared or have truly lost everything. I look forward to continuing the project within the county to hopefully collect more animals in the years to come. From myself, the Maryland Open Horse Show Series, and Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church, we send love and stuffed animals to the communities of Prince George’s County, Maryland."

Branchville Volunteers help to move bags and boxes of stuffed animals for delivery to the Fire Services Building.

Kassie Coulson had stuffed animals stored in her off-campus apartment

A pick up truck is loaded.

Kassie and her pick-up crew at her College Park apartment

Kassie and the delivery point crew at the Fire Services Building in Landover Hills