UM students deliver toys to children

University of Montevallo counseling students delivered more than 500 stuffed toys, mostly bunny rabbits, to Hill Crest Behavioral Hospital on April 4 as part of their Bunnies for Children fund-raiser.

Led by counseling student Linda McGarr, UM’s counseling and family and consumer science departments collaborated to meet this year’s goal. Students collected 200 stuffed toys last year.

Bridgette Bishop, head nurse of Hill Crest’s children’s psychiatric unit, said she and her staff were amazed by the delivery. The 12-bed unit houses children ages 5 to 11 who have mental health needs requiring full-time care. Each child in the unit received a toy.

Bishop said the children take exceptional care of their new toys.

“I think because the toy is theirs to keep, the children take good care not to ruin it because they can take it with when they leave, and sometimes the toy is all they own,” Bishop said.

Dr. Mary Bartlett, UM’s community counseling track coordinator, said she continues to marvel at the generosity of faculty and staff.

“People from across the campus, and particularly the College of Education, donated toys for this event,” she said. “The sense of community that we inspire in our UM staff and students is overwhelming.”

Bartlett continued, “Several churches, schools, community organizations, and citizens got involved this year. A teacher had her students wrote personal notes and attached one to each bunny for the children to receive. The notes read things like ‘Be strong’ and ‘Don’t give up.’ It was truly inspiring to us all.”

When asked what the goal will be for the project next year, Bartlett laughed and said, “With the Montevallo community, the sky is the limit.”