Area residents are being reminded to bring new teddy bears to the Salem News, the Morning Journal in Lisbon and the Review in East Liverpool for distribution to hospitalized children in time for Christmas.
Morgan Franjko, a 2010 graduate of Leetonia High School, started the drive as a way to give back and to help children who may find themselves in a hospital bed instead of their own home for the holiday.
Originally she just planned to collect bears for Akron Children's Hospital, but then the project grew to include Pittsburgh Children's at UPMC, Akron Children's in Boardman and hospitals in Salem and East Liverpool.
According to an entry Dec. 2 on her Facebook page at "A Teddy Bear Drive For Children," the effort is at the halfway mark with just 18 days left.
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 20, with plans to deliver the bears on Christmas Eve. The local drop-off sites are open during business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Salem News, 161 N. Lincoln Ave., Salem, the Morning Journal, 308 Maple St., Lisbon, and the Review, 210 E. Fourth St., East Liverpool.
She also has boxes in Pennsylvania in Darlington, and Moon and Hopewell townships and at ServiceLink, her employer. She's receiving assistance from her mother, Carolyn, who lives in Leetonia, and her grandmother, Darlene Pavlick, who lives in the Akron area.
Franjko got the idea for the drive after seeing how being hospitalized affected her friend's 5-year-old daughter, who was hospitalized at Akron Children's Hospital for a kidney transplant about seven months ago.
She thought a teddy bear could bring comfort to hospitalized children this Christmas.
Bears left over will be taken to local shelters and to local police departments for officers to keep in their patrol cars for children.
Anyone wanting to donate can visit one of the drop-off sites, visit the Facebook page "A Teddy Bear Drive For Children" or contact Franjko at 330-727-5860.