Scott County Circuit Court Clerk's office employees refurbish teddy bears for local children
BENTON, Mo. -- What started as an office fundraiser so employees could wear blue jeans has evolved into a club that most recently donated stuffed animals to comfort children in a time of need.
Some employees of the Scott County Circuit Clerk's office in Benton refurbished a batch of teddy bears, and this week donated them to the Scott County Sheriff's Department to be distributed to children.
"A long time ago in order to wear jeans, the incentive was you paid a certain amount per month," said Scott County Circuit Court Clerk Christy Hency. "That turned into 'Club 33' because we're the 33rd Judicial Circuit, and Club 33 became an interoffice support system."
The club, which has about 20 members, has fundraisers throughout the year.
"You're always passing the hat to collect for flowers or when something significant happens in each other's lives. So the paying to wear the jeans started the club so we wouldn't have to pass the hat and always have funds available for anything that happens with each other."
Since then, the club's purpose has gone beyond that, Hency said.
"We do fun stuff with each other," Hency said. "At Christmas we do a cookie exchange and a cocoa bar and we'll do a service project. All year long, if something pops up, we do what we can so it's a lot of us putting a little in each month."
Club 33's most recent project was the brainchild of member Kay Elkins while shopping with her granddaughter the day after Christmas.
"We went to a store and they had all these bears on a clearance rack. I asked Jasmine: 'What can we do with those?' She said: 'Give them to little kids.'"
So Elkins purchased over 30 teddy bears with the intent to give them to children.
"I didn't know if hospitals or the Division of Family Services could use them so I brought them to work to see if anyone else had other ideas," Elkins said.
That's when someone suggested giving them to the sheriff's department.
"Because they go out on these calls and run into these little kids who are upset and excited, and she suggested giving them to the sheriff's department,"
The large, fluffy bears had 2016 embroidered on one of their paws so Elkins and her fellow club members discussed ways they could cover up the year.
"We tried to rip out the embroidery but it too tight," Elkins said, adding she finally found some self-adhesive felt to make hearts.
"We take the hearts and cover the 2016 -- and it's a symbol of love at the same time," Elkins said.
A couple club members took the felt home and cut out the heart shapes so Elkins could cover the teddy bears' paws.
On Thursday, Hency, Elkins and other members of Club 33 delivered the bears to the sheriff's department. Prior to that, the bears had been stored in the circuit court clerk's office until about two or three weeks ago when Elkins decided they needed to do something with the stuffed animals.
Scott County Sheriff Wes Drury said he and the department were very appreciative of the club's efforts. Drury said officers can store the stuffed bears in their vehicles so they have them when they encounter a child in need.
"The circuit court clerk employees see the families as we get them through the courtroom, but they don't see the bad accidents that never make it here," Drury said. "And it's very much appreciated and the bears will be used."
Recently, Hency said she was traveling and came up on a car wreck where she saw two little boys sitting on a curb crying and scared.
"I thought about our bears and how that incident was a good example of the need for them," Hency said.
She said: "A little bit of love can go a long way."