A Salt Lake crisis center was a bit more cheerful and a lot fuzzier Tuesday when more than 60 teddy bears were handed out to the children staying there.
The Adopt-A-Bear program, sponsored by the Utah Council for Crime Prevention, got its official start when officers, joined by McGruff the Crime Dog, visited the Family Shelter, 210 S. Rio Grande, to distribute the toys. The ceremony also included the character from the Hawaiian Punch commercials.About 65 bears were distributed at the shelter, and police say about 150 more will be given out on police calls that involve traumatized children.
Salt Lake Police Lt. Phil Kirk said the teddy bears are a good coping mechanism for children who become frightened due to traffic accidents, family fights or other situations that merit a police presence.
"In a crisis it is a way to get them to feel better. It also breaks down the barriers between children and police."
The bears distributed to the children at the shelter and to Salt Lake Police were donated by Hawaiian Punch.
Kirk said the bears will also be turned over to advocates for domestic violence victims who are called out to family fights. The bears can then be given to children who witness abuse.