- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - When his sister Eva died at birth, a teddy bear from a grief counselor is what comforted her brother, 10-year-old Jacob Clark.

Something was consoling about having a physical object to hold on to, he said.

“It just gave me something to focus on other than what happened,” said Jacob about his teddy bear.

He received the bear from a family friend who runs a grief counseling group, and it gave him the idea on how he could help other kids.

Jacob along with his two younger brothers, Elijah and Jessie, donated 75 teddy bears to the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department recently to help comfort kids who are in need.

His teddy bear gift is the first of several charity activities the family will continue to do as part of the Eva’s Hands Project.

The project is meant to keep Eva’s name alive and bring awareness to suffering and need in the community, Jacob’s mother, Melissa Clark, told The Republic (https://bit.ly/1CJgwWg ).

Sheriff’s deputies will keep the teddy bears in their squad cars and hand them out to children they encounter on calls during their shifts.

The bears are all beige and were deliberately chosen because they are nearly identical to the bear Jacob cherished during his grieving process.

Joined by his mother, his father, Kyle, and his brothers, Jacob sat in front of Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers to tell the story about why he was donating the bears to the sheriff’s department.

“Well, since I received the bear, it was comforting,” Jacob said. “So I would like to share that comfort with kids in the community who were also going through the same thing that I did.”

Myers leaned on his desk in front of the boy. As he listened to Jacob speak, Myers began to smile.

“It is refreshing to know that there are young men like you out there that are wanting to make other kids and people feel good. … It says a lot about who you are,” Myers said.

Myers handed Jacob a junior deputy certificate for his service to the sheriff’s department, telling the boy he was proud of him.

Jacob’s pastor at Westside Community Church, Robert Vester, said while the youth formed the idea to provide teddy bears to kids in crisis, Vester found the destination for the bears.

Vester is a chaplain for the sheriff’s department and has accompanied deputies on calls involving serious incidents that affect children, he said.

Deputies sometimes need a way to comfort kids who are caught in difficult situations, he said.

The Clark family raised $300 for Jacob’s project through direct donations from friends and family, help from Target and by selling crosses they made through an event at their church called the Answered Prayers Project.

A portion of the proceeds from crosses that were purchased went to Jacob’s project.

The Clark family raised an additional $200, which they plan to donate to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a charity that provides free photography for parents who are suffering from the loss of the infant child.

The charity helps pay for photos of the child for the parents to keep.

Melissa Clark said support from friends, family and the community helped her get through losing Eva.

“We were shown so much compassion when Eva died,” Melissa Clark said. “It was overwhelming.


Information from: The Republic, https://www.therepublic.com/

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