Stuffed animal donation to sheriff's department can 'help minimize trauma'

police officers holding bears
Photo credit Alan Scaia

An organization launched in Texas five years ago has donated more than 300 stuffed animals to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department. Denice Hanna launched "Alana's Gift" in memory of her daughter who died in a car crash.

Hanna's daughter died in 1998. She said she had struggled to talk about her daughter, but when she launched the project, that helped her find a mission to honor Alana's memory.

"I honestly don't know if I was strong enough to talk about it in public before now," she said. "But these stuffed animals are actually healing my heart one animal at a time."

Since starting the project in 2018, Hanna says she has delivered more than 15,000 stuffed animals to 25 police and fire departments.

"I've had the opportunity to connect with other parents who have lost children, and we've created such a sense of family between us. We understand each other," she said.

Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown says the stuffed animals can help deputies bring some peace to a child they might see in an emergency.

"We have an opportunity to be able to help minimize the trauma children are experiencing when we encounter them," she said.

Brown said a child might have just been in a crash, or deputies may be responding to a case of domestic violence. By providing a stuffed animal, she says deputies can make a closer connection to the kids to try to bring them some comfort during a crisis.

"Maybe the experience they relate to law enforcement officers is a negative one, so this affords an opportunity to make a friend and cause them to understand that we, too, are human," Brown said.

"Let them know there's hope," Hanna said. "As hard as it is to believe, there's always a silver lining in every situation."

More information about the program is available at .

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Alan Scaia