Thompson’s Siren Snuggles project to focus on law enforcement

By DONNAMY STEELE | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – One of Thompson High School’s many student programs, the Public Safety Academy, is changing scopes for next year. To prepare, they are kicking off with a toy drive inspired by a project called Siren Snuggles.

After receiving feedback from parents and students, Amanda Wilbanks said the school wanted to focus on law enforcement for next year.

“Our students and our parents reported to us that they were not as interested in studying for law school or to be paralegals. What the students really wanted to learn was how to go into law enforcement,” Wilbanks said. “So police officers, DEA, detectives, there’s a wide variety of fields, so we changed the focus to law enforcement for next year.”

When considering what community service project the public safety academy needed to do, Wilbanks thought of UAB student and Miss Alabama contestant Emma Owen. Owen started Siren Snuggles, a project in honor of her late grandfather, to comfort children in crisis situations with toys.

“As we were thinking about what community service our public safety academy needed to do, I thought of a young lady who I’ve known for a while, Emma Owen. It was brought about by her grandfather who was a Birmingham police officer,” Wilbanks said. “He would carry toys around in his patrol car to give to children who were in a crisis situation. He was killed in the line of duty years ago, and she wanted to honor his memory by continuing to collect small toys, stuffed animals, little cars, snacks and make these little bags to put in policemen’s cars so that when they came across a child who was in crisis they could give them a little goody bag to make them feel better. We thought that was the perfect community service we could do.”

THS teacher Elaine McGavin has partnered with Owen to gather the toys and make bags for local police officers, Wilbanks said. Although the toy drive has been going well, Wilbanks hopes the community will get involved in the project as they learn of it.

“We’d love to raise awareness for it to get more toys donated,” Wilbanks said. “We’ve had a lot of teachers, students and parents donate, but we would love for the community to know about that and help us with the toy drive.”

The school is currently accepting donations, and a box is in Elaine McGavin’s room. She is collecting small plush toys, toy cars or any small toy that can fit in a gift bag for boys and girls. Donations will be accepted for the remainder of the year.

Some of the items Siren Snuggles accepts are crackers, cookies, gummies, water bottles, juice boxes, granola bars, chips, small blankets, mittens, small sunglasses, stickers, hand sanitizer, wipes, small packs of tissue, action figures, dolls, stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, bouncy balls, hot wheels and bubbles. To donate to Siren Snuggles, take donations to McGavin.