Thanks to Red Bank High School students, the town's police and firefighters have a number of teddy bears to comfort children in emergency situations.
Four seniors on the school's student council presented the furry toys to Fire Chief Mark Matthews and Chief of Police Tim Christol on Tuesday night at the City Council meeting.
"We deal with kids in crisis on a pretty regular basis," Christol said. "That we can give them these teddy bears is a huge, huge benefit to not only the kids but also the parents and the officers to deal with the situation better."
The students spent the better part of February collecting the little bears in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.
"In light of the Sandy Hook tragedy our school decided to rally together to make a difference and honor the 26 victims that died that day," said student body President Alaire Gage.
Gage said they collected more than 300 bears over three weeks. Many students, faculty and community members participated in the event.
"I'm really proud of our young people who were willing to step up and do such things," Commissioner Rick Causer said. "I mean it's a real credit to you and the high school for doing this. Thank you."
Gage and fellow student council members Nic Galiano, Jonathan Campbell and Taylor Stott posed for a group shot with Christol and Matthews, each clutching a teddy bear for the photo.
"We're grateful for ya'll doing this," Mayor John Roberts said.
Fire Chief Mark Matthews said this was the first time in 15 years that Red Bank emergency services had received a donation like that.
In addition to recognizing the students' work, Red Bank City Council members approved a grant to purchase body armor for police officers and passed a resolution establishing procedures for public access to and inspection of public records.
Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.
Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.