Bears help soften blow of
by Lenny Roberts
Like most of us, Nordhoff High School 10th-grader Jamie Garrett
felt the pain experienced by New York City survivors in the aftermath
of the World Trade Center disaster, and began soliciting teddy
bears to send to children whose school lies in the shadow of
More than 650 bears were eventually donated or purchased with
contributions collected from Ojai Valley school kids through
Garrett's persistence, and shipped to the Bath Beach School earlier
Lori Ponce, a teacher at Mira Monte School, said she became aware
of Bath Beach School through her cousin, Michael Pertain, a New
York City school psychologist, and told Sarah Garrett, also a
Mira Monte School fourth-grade teacher and Jamie's mother, about
the psychological needs of those children.
"Jamie got on a campaign to do something for the New York
kids," Ponce said, "and decided the bears should go
to that school."
Garrett explained that Bath Beach is a four-story school in Brooklyn,
and all the kids above the second floor watched in horror as
the planes flew into the towers and watched them come down.
"The school psychologist said that the trauma happened when
the children witnessed it right across the water," she said.
"A good portion of them couldn't go home for days. They
lost loved ones who never came to get them. And, they're right
near a military base, so when the base was shut down, they were
trapped in the school."
Jamie Garrett, 15, said the idea to start her "We Care Bears"
program stemmed from an earlier experience with a viral infection
that affected her for nine months.
"A couple of years ago, I was really sick in the hospital
and a couple of friends sent me a teddy bear. It was a really
a great comfort to me, she recalled. "On Sept. 11, I began
thinking about all the kids who would become orphans and how
much that teddy bear meant to me.
"It was amazing how many people were excited about it at
NHS. I find that its easier for kids to donate money than things.
I couldn't believe how much money we collected and how much we
could get with that money."
In the end, Mira Monte School children collected 125 bears, and
the Nordhoff kids opened their wallets and contributed $1,407
for an additional 528 bears.
The collection began when Sonceriae Armstrong, who heads Nordhoff's
Leadership Class, went to each classroom with cans during second
period, and "people would just put what they could into
the can," Garrett said, adding a thank you "to the
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news
GARRETT with part of her pile of contributions, destined for
schoolchildren near Ground Zero in New York City.