What is Plush Patrol?
When police, firefighters, or EMTs arrive at a family’s home it is during times of great uncertainty, confusion, and fear, especially on the part of children. Their homes might be on fire, or a loved one might be having a serious medical emergency, or even being arrested. Regardless, the children present in the situation need comfort and assurance. It was out of this hope to provide a small bit of comfort that the Plush Patrol ministry was formed.
It is this ministry’s ambition to provide stuffed animals to first responders free of charge to give to children in times of stress and fear. Plush Patrol is an outreach ministry founded by Lone Star UMC in Collins and The Vine Church in Columbia, and currently distributes to agencies in Marion and Covington Counties. The vision of Plush Patrol is rooted in the Wesleyan connection and collects stuffed animals in local churches to distribute amongst participating agencies with the greatest need. Donations are accepted all year and expansion to other agencies is planned for the future.
WHAT TYPE OF TOYS ARE ACCEPTED?
- We only accept new stuffed toys.
- Preferably between 4”-8” high.
- Seasonal toys are accepted.
- Preferably toys that do not have a strong odor.
- Preferably toys that do not have names or distinguishing titles on them, such as proper names or things like, Grandma, Mother, Father, etc.
- Please, no toys that require batteries or make noise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do you only accept new toys?
A: This is a completely valid question since we realize that many people have gently used toys that they think might be acceptable. However, the main reason we do not accept them is due to potential allergens. What may not be bothersome to one household might be damaging, and potentially dangerous, to another. Pet hair, dander, nuts, cologne, detergents, etc. can easily be trapped in the fur of the stuffed animal and we don’t want to hurt someone that we are trying to help. While supplying new toys does not eliminate this risk, it does minimize it greatly.
Q: What do you do with the stuffed animals when you receive them?
A: Once we have collected enough animals to distribute, they are placed on the altar rail of the church and blessed during Sunday morning worship. They are then put individually in clear plastic bags, sealed, and labeled for distribution. This is done so that as they are given to various first responders, they will not be damaged in their service vehicles.
Q: Do you inspect the toys that are donated?
A: We inspect them for damage and to ensure that they are all new. We also remove any price tags that are remaining on the animals at that time. If we do find any used toys, or toys that cannot be used for our purposes (i.e. far too large, or not stuffed), we try to find another ministry that can make use of them.
Q: Can I designate an agency for my stuffed animal to go to?
A: Unfortunately, No. They are collected as one group and distributed as needed. They generally stay in the geographic area in which they were donated, however, if there is a need for more stuffed animals in another area participating in Plush Patrol, we may send toys there on occasion.