By Alyssa Schnugg
Adults aren’t the only ones who have been stressed due to the pandemic. Children have had their lives turned upside down as well, and what better way is there to soothe the soul than a soft, fluffy teddy bear to hold close while spending time coloring with crayons?
The Justice Family Chapter of Mississippi and its leader Tracey Williams will be giving away teddy bears/stuffed animal along with coloring books and other goodies from 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 19 at the Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center.
The “Books and Bears” event will be a drive-thru event in the parking lot of the activity center, where parents can come pick up the stuffed animals, coloring books, crossword puzzle books, as well as fruits, candy canes and hot chocolate packets in gift bags.
Items will be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as supplies last.
Williams said she came up with the idea for the event when thinking of ways to help local families this holiday season.
“I had been pondering over what can I do to help out since so many people are struggling financially in the LOU community during this pandemic,” she told Hotty Toddy News recently. “A thought finally came across my mind about doing something for the kids to help ease the burden a little on the parents in the community as they try to provide gifts for their kids on Christmas.”
Williams, who also organized two peaceful rallies earlier this year in Oxford after the shooting death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota, said she became interested in the JUSTICE organization after watching a rally in 2017 after 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside a latched freezer at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. The rally, and eventually, the JUSTICE organization was formed by Jedidiah Brown, an activist in Chicago.
“I reached out to [Brown] to join,” Williams said. “The organization has members throughout the United States that help provide assistance in their own communities as well as doing humanitarian work in every state. We also help seek justice in fighting for human rights.”
As the leader of the Mississippi chapter, Williams said she is looking for ways to build relationships and help provide various resources in the LOU community. She hopes to make “Books and Bears” an annual event.
Anyone wishing to donate teddy bears or coloring/crossword books can drop them off at the Oxford Police Department, Uptown Coffee or Popular Trends.
The JUSTICE “Books and Bears” event is not affiliated with the annual “UM Books and Bears” event held at the University of Mississippi to provide Christmas gifts to Facilities Management Department employees’ children.