"Bearing the Burden" in Angelina County

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Children are taken from abusive homes 137 times a day in Texas.  During that time, a stuffed animal can be a comfort to a hurting child.

"It can't take the place of a mom or dad and it can't fill a hurting heart but it does make a difference if they have something to hold onto when they are facing difficult times," says Rhonda O'Neill with Buckner Children and Family Services, which is a foster care network.

Buckner launched a campaign to "Bear the Burden".  Local churches, organizations and individuals all donated to the campaign and Kay Stout, also with Buckner, says they provided more than 600 new stuff animals.

"And we will be giving them to the children in our program, but we wanted to partner with agencies who also worked with abused children. Because we know a stuffed animal means so much to a child that's hurting," says Stout.

The Family Crisis Center of East Texas was the first stop and then it was on to Lufkin Community Partners and The X Change Place.  All of these agencies were grateful to receive the bears because they know how much one small item can mean a world of difference.

In Angelina County alone, more than 100 children are in foster care right now.  Even more still need to be rescued. Nearly 200,000 cases of child abuse are reported each year in Texas and last year 223 children died at the hands of their abusers.

Amanda Ellison with Lufkin Community Partners says, "Most of them have never had a toy or a new toy, so to get a brand new stuffed animal that is just theirs would be like having Christmas for the first time."

To make a difference in the life of an abused child, all you have to do is volunteer your time.

Angelina County needs more foster homes for children taken out of abusive ones.  If you are interested in helping contact Buckner Family and Children Services at 936-637-3300 or visit http://www.beafamily.org

Foster family classes start this September.