Red Bank High collects stuffed animals for kids in crisis - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Red Bank High collects stuffed animals for kids in crisis

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Red Bank High student council members Red Bank High student council members

RED BANK, TN (WRCB)- When Red Bank High School's student council heard about the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, teacher Deb Weiss says it didn't take long for them to take action.  "They wanted to do something in honor of the Sandy Hook families, and help local children at the same time."

The students created "26 Hugs," a campaign to collect and distribute hundreds of new stuffed animals to local emergency responders.  The collections continue through Friday, giving the program a heart-filled connection to Valentine's week.

Keyanna Tatum, a senior cheerleader and member of Student Council, shared her story of how a teddy bear helped to dry her tears when, as a first grader, she fell from a second story balcony and fractured her femur.  She remembers that one of the police officers who accompanied the emergency crew gave her a small teddy bear and helped to dry her tears.  The Red Bank students want to make sure that other young children can be similarly comforted.

In addition to the stuffed animal collection, students will also be able to recognize members of the community who have been observed sharing random acts of kindness.  These students will have their pictures and stories shared on the student bulletin board outside of the cafeteria.  Several of these narratives will be featured on the school news program, The Mane News.

According to student body president Alaire Gage, 26 Hugs was inspired by the 26 Acts of Kindness project, first tweeted by Ann Curry of NBC's Today Show.  "Because we were in exam week immediately after the Sandy Hook shootings, we were not able to participate in the program at that time.  We knew, however, that we also wanted to make a positive statement.  What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day by sharing our love and kindness with others."

School Resource Officer Tim Mann, now in his 8th year at Red Bank, is one of the program's most enthusiastic supporters.  "I worked a wreck recently, and there was a child who was crying and screaming.  I was able to give that child a stuffed animal, and before you know it, he was under control, and we could actually talk to him about what the emergency workers were doing."

Student Council members will be collecting stuffed animals during all lunch periods through Friday February 15.  For additional information, you may bring your donation to the school office, or contact Student Council sponsor, Deb Weiss at

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