Bear Run morphs into coat drive
By Kevin Dye
The Madison County Senior Citizens Center has decided to revamp a popular charity drive to benefit the community this holiday season while still keeping the memories alive of a departed beloved staff member.
For the last seven years the center has collected stuffed animals for their Bear Run event, which supplied area emergency service agencies, hospitals and other groups with the toys before Christmas.The program was created by the late Jim Holland, who was the assistant director for the senior center, to provide the stuffed toys to be given to children facing illness or accidents. The program was so successful that the agencies who benefited from the Bear Drive say they now have a surplus of the stuffed toys.
“Jim started the Bear Run when he first came here, so it’s been here for seven years now,” Adult Day Care coordinator Pat Baynes said. “Our folks had a great time collecting animals and cleaning them up for the children who would receive them. This year we found that those groups who received the stuffed toys still had a plentiful supply left from last year and so we decided to change things up a bit.”
What the staff came up with was an idea to have a Coat Drive instead of the Bear Run. The collected winter items will be delivered to MATCO Services to benefit their employees. They are currently collecting new and gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarves for the drive. They can be dropped off at the Madison County Senior Citizens Center, 280 W. High St., London, during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We will collect coats and winter items for the next two weeks and then the ADC folks will help to spruce them up,” Baynes said. “Then we will take all of the winter coats to MATCO for them to distribute.”
The new project continues the legacy started by Holland and keeps his memory alive, as his presence is still felt at the center. Holland was part Cherokee and the Cherokee culture believes that one’s spirit stays on earth for a period of time after a person’s death. They also believe that cardinals are a sacred bird and are a sign of good news and bad news and a sign of death. Baynes said that she believes that Holland is still making his presence known around the center.
“Jim loved cardinals and before his death we never saw cardinals here at the center,” Baynes said. “But shorty after Jim died last January we began to see them. Now we see them frequently, so we are sure that Jim is hanging around.”
Baynes said that Holland’s impact on the center, its programs and its people are still being felt today.
“You know, I still occasionally stop when I face a difficulty and ask myself, what would Jim do in this situation,” Baynes said. “He was an extremely intelligent man and he is still missed here. The Coat Drive will help people this winter and still keep Jim’s project and memory alive.”