DANSVILLE — When a child has suffered loss of a home, a car accident, or a domestic disturbance a stuffed animal can be used to comfort them.
The idea took root in 2002 with a stuffed animal called Tommy the Moose, which is a community service outreach program for the Loyal Order of Moose.
On Jan. 28 the Dansville Moose Lodge Governor John Deleo and Dansville Women of the Moose Senior Regent Sheila Freas handed out Tommy the Moose stuffed animals to the Dansville Police Department, Dansville Fire Department, and Dansville Ambulance.
“When a child experiences a traumatic event such as a house fire, natural disaster, or accident emergency service workers across the continent take part in this program,” Deleo said. “We pledge to give 12 Tommy the Moose dolls to each of the groups here tonight.”
Deleo presented a Tommy the Moose to Dansville Ambulance Director Scott Johnson, Dansville Fire Department Assistant Chief Glenn Camuto, and Dansville Police Chief Charles Perkins.
Deleo said the Dansville Moose Lodge would get them more stuffed animals if needed.
Perkins said the community has helped them out a lot.
“We really appreciate the recognition,” he said. “There is no way the jobs we do get done without the community support. At the end of the day that is what it is about. It is done for the benefit of the community, and it is why organizations like this exist. We recognize that, and appreciate this opportunity to come up here.”
Camuto said the Tommy the Moose is a great idea to help children with trauma.
“It is going to give the kids something to think about when there is an emergency situation. It will keep them calm and relaxed,” he said. “It will take the focus off what is going on, so they can deal with the problem.”
Camuto added the stuffed animals will take the children’s minds off of the traumatic event.
“It will make them feel safe and secure,” he said. “They have something they can hold onto.”
Johnson said that it is great all three agencies get Tommy the Moose.
“These will go fast,” he said. “It is not because we see a lot of kids that we treat in the ambulance, but we do have a lot of kids present when we respond to a crisis. We had to use a couple of stuffed animals (not the tommy’s) the other day at a house fire.”
It is great all three agencies have them so no one runs out of Tommy the Moose, Johnson said.
Camuto said he believes the stuffed animals make the children feel safe.
All of the Tommy the Moose dolls are kept in individual bags to keep them clean, and it makes it easier to disperse them in the emergency vehicles.
Perkins had Tommy the Moose a few years back, and said it went very well with the police department.
“Sometimes the kids just want to meet the police officers,” he said. “It softens the opportunity to meet the police officers. In more difficult circumstances it is just a good way to start a conversation.”
In the case of domestic abuse a child will feel more at ease opening the door to a police officer with a stuffed animal.
“This is what we use the stuffed animals for,” Perkins said. “It just helps make them feel comfortable. It gives us an opportunity to soften the environment.”
Perkins added there are seven police officers at the Dansville Police Department now, and everyone is working very well.
Dansville Moose Lodge Ministrator Ray West said they handed out Tommy the Moose to the departments six or seven years ago.
“This has always helped the kids,” he said. “If they don’t understand what is happening to them the stuffed animal comforts them.”
Deleo said he would like to keep doing Tommy the Moose in the future.
“In the future I would like to give them to Wayland and Perkinsville fire departments as well,” he said. “It is going to work out really well. It is one of the best things the Moose Lodge offers. It is all about the children. It brings a smile to the child’s face, and that is good for the Moose.”
For more information on Tommy the Moose visit http://www.tommymoose.org/Program.asp