BROOKNEAL — Officers with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and Brookneal and Altavista police departments used visits last week to Brookneal and Altavista nursing facilities to let residents there know they are still loved and are not forgotten. Through an effort organized by CCSO Community Relations-Crime Prevention Sgt. Gary Penn, officers distributed well more than a hundred stuffed animals to residents at Heritage Hall Brookneal and Autumn Care of Altavista. The officers walked down the facilities’ hallways and went room to room carrying large plastic bags filled with stuffed bear, dog and rabbit dolls, handing one out to each resident who wanted one. They often threw in a hug.
And the residents responded with smiles.
Sgt. Penn said that while many may know that the sheriff’s office sometimes gives stuffed animals to children in crisis, they may be unaware of the law enforcement community outreach directed to seniors. “Sometimes people in the later stages of life’s journey are forgotten,” Penn said of the stuffed animal giveaway. “This is an opportunity to let them know they are still loved and appreciated. It’s about building relationships. I know how good I would feel if someone helped my parents or grandparents. I’m very grateful to Sheriff Whit Clark for allowing me to build these relationships.”
Heritage Hall Administrator Sabrina Jones shared her appreciation of the visit. “(CCSO) Sgt. Gary Penn put a smile on our residents’ faces. They loved the bears and seeing Gary here. I thank him for all he does everyday and for going the extra mile to do something special for our seniors.”
Brookneal resident Darlene White donated the Heritage stuffed animals.
Sgt. Penn said he wants to continue the stuffed animal giveaway program and is seeking donations of new stuffed animals or used ones in good condition. For information, call him at 434-332-9822.
He said, “As law enforcement officers we have to show we’re human beings — we have a heart too. We’re every day people who have a responsibility to give back to the community.”
(For the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the Jan. 29 print edition of The Union Star. It's available on newsstands throughout the greater Brookneal area.)