Rising Lincolnton High School student Langley Little sought to soothe both traumatized and victimized Lincoln County children when she first decided to make stuffed bears for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
The 17-year-old has already received her silver award and dozens of other accomplished badges since joining Girl Scouts as a Brownie in first grade. Each badge required the completion of seven steps of technology and community involvement, Troop Leader Sherry Beam said.
Although the Lincolnton Police Department and Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse & Child Advocacy Center already handed out stuffed animals and other toys to comfort children in traumatic circumstances, Langley knew nothing of the two agencies’ procedures when she planned the crafty project in March.
“We have given out things to child victims in the past to help calm situations and to let that child know we truly care,” Police Chief Rodney Jordan told the Times-News.
The LCCACA similarly offered children a special toy room where they could pick out stuffed animals or books, Executive Director Sherry Reinhardt said.
Langley and her father immediately presented the idea to Chief Jordan, who couldn’t help but tear-up at the compassion behind the teen’s idea.
“It melted my heart to hear the concern she had,” he said. “I wish as we got older we could all keep the innocent and helping nature about us that go along with so many of our children.”
Karen Bolick, Langley’s project advisor, prepared herself to work side-by-side with the teen on the required 80-hour project, before realizing just how organized and prompt Langley had been in divvying up all the responsibilities among the 20 other Scouts in Troop 20242.
“She had everything so well-organized, she didn’t really need me very much,” Bolick said.
From April to July, Langley and the troop worked tirelessly to create more than 300 handmade bears comprised of various colors, patterns, shapes and sizes. Ribbon additionally adorns each bear along with a message that reads, “Enjoy your new bear buddy.”
“Some days she would sew, and other days she would cut,” Sara Lynn said of her daughter’s project loyalty.
Local churches and community members donated all fabrics and other project materials.
The months of crafting not only served as an act of love for hurting children but also a lesson in leadership and community coordination, Bolick said.
She also commended Langley for both her passion and degree of dedication to the project.
“That is the key,” Bolick said.
Already this year, nearly 100 child victims have made their way into the Child Advocacy Center, Reinhardt said. While the statistics are a far cry from last year’s nearly 200 victims, Langley, law enforcement and CAC officials alike understood from the beginning that 314 bears wouldn’t be enough. Therefore, the troop decided to continue the project into the future.
“Children are scared, and it (a bear), shows them, ‘I’m here to help,’” Reinhardt said.
Langley, too, knew the frightful feeling of a traumatizing situation after suffering a seizure at the age of 10 during a Girl Scout camp. A local ranger instantly eased her anxiety by offering her a stuffed animal, which she still has today.
“She wanted to do something that would help other children,” Beam said.
Bolick felt confident that Langley’s bears would prove beneficial in the lives of the county’s molested, neglected and battered children.
“This place (CAC) is a sanctuary for these children, and these bears will help them even more,” she said.
Langley will present her project to a Scout board in August to determine whether or not she’ll receive the coveted Gold Award.
“I am truly proud of this young lady and am blessed to be able to support her and be a part of this project,” Jordan said.
For more information about the LCCACA, located at 161 Policarp Street in Lincolnton, call (704) 736-1155. The Center is one of 23 accredited Child Advocacy Centers across the state, Reinhardt said.