By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit staff
The 10th Medical Support Squadron is aiding crime victims with fuzzy, cute and comforting new friends.
During “Operation Bear Hug” the squadron donated 134 teddy bears to the Colorado Springs Police Department during the March 4 commander’s call in the 10th Medical Group dining room. The unit also gave a helping paw to a dog rescue group.
“It gives them something to hold on to,” said Kathy Rowlands, CSPD coordinator of volunteers to squadron members of the bears.
First responders keep a small stock of them in squad cars to give to children and senior citizens as comfort when they must be taken out of traumatic situations such as wrecks, fires, abuse, domestic violence and loss of a spouse.
“It’s great to reach out to the needy in the community, and it’s a great morale booster,” 10th MDSS commander Lt. Col. Michael Burke said of the unit’s volunteer efforts.
Every month between 20 and 30 unit members adopt a program to benefit others. Last year the squadron donated 1,500 hours in volunteer time.
Past projects have included collecting coats for the Salvation Army, gathering food for Care & Share and bikes and toys for the Bob Telmosse holiday give-away, construction of a healing garden at Ronald McDonald House, planting young trees on the Academy, Habitat for Humanity projects and grounds preparation for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo.
Before being donated, the bears underwent scrutiny for attachments which might have presented hazards, such as buttons a child could choke on.
“We had to strip them bear naked,” Colonel Burke joked.
During a bake sale last month in the 10th MDG lobby the 10th MDSS raised $900 to benefit the Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue, which fosters and cares for Great Danes in need of a new home.
Marcia Edginto, along with her Great Dane Sphinx which she fostered and later adopted, was on hand to accept the check.
“This will buy a lot of kibble,” she said with a smile during the acceptance.
Colonel Burke estimated squadron members sold “about a million calories” in support of the effort.
Master Sgt. Lynn Barron feels fortunate in her life and enjoys helping others.
“I love it because I can help out people who are less fortunate,” she said of getting involved with the unit’s projects.
Squadron community outreach program coordinator Cindy Cope feels the same way.
“I believe in giving back,” she said. “Volunteering is from the heart.”
She praised squadron members for their enthusiasm and willingness to help others.
“Once they get that first taste of volunteering, they get crazy involved.”