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Exchange Club donates teddy bears for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Exchange Club donates teddy bears for National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Posted at 11:20 AM, Apr 19, 2024

HELENA — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in observance, The Exchange Club of Helena is donating two hundred teddy bears to the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) and Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office.

"It's incredible work that they do. So, hopefully, this does make a little bit of a brighter day in a really dark time," said Michelle Smetana, the president of The Exchange Club of Helena.

The club will deliver the toys to CAC and Court-Appointed Special Advocates to comfort children in tragic situations.

Matt Kultgen is a detective with the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office who specializes in investigating crimes against children.

He said, "I think people generally might not know. We get to work in this field every day, so it's in my face all the time. But I would encourage them to know that this is real."

The sheriff's office will place them in patrol cars and rescue vehicles to help officers communicate with children.

"We're trying to establish an environment where kids can't be manipulated or suggestible. And just have an open place for them to be themselves regarding information that you know might be relevant towards an investigation," said Kultgen.

Time Out Teddy Bears are the official teddy bears of The National Exchange Club.

They say the toys are "a safe, warm, loving friend that serves as a calming tool for a child to hold in a time of crisis."

Kultgen said, "[Stuffed animals] allows them to have something to hold on to, to open up when they're talking about hard things. I find that to be very valuable for accurate statements and things like that."

The Exchange Club of Helena meets in Downstairs at the Brewhouse every Thursday except the last Thursday of the month.

Meetings are open to the public, and you can find more information about the organization here.