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University News

GCU and Lakewood Police Partner for Teddy Bear Service Project

GCU faculty holding stuff animals and standing next to the GCU lion mascot

GCU Dean of Students Amani S. Jennings; GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.; GCU Provost William J. Behre, Ph.D.; Roary; Lakewood Police Officer Stephanie Campbell ’10; and Lakewood Police Officer Michael Dennis

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Georgian Court community, in partnership with the Lakewood Police Department, came together to stuff 190 toy animals for Teddy Bears for Tykes, a service project to help reduce trauma suffered by children exposed to violence, abuse, and other traumatic incidents.

The Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored the service project and purchased the new teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Throughout the day on Wednesday, October 25, students, faculty, staff, administrators, and Lakewood police officers stopped into the Gavan Lounge to stuff an animal or two. The result was a colorful array of toy bears, pandas, monkeys, lambs, and more, all of which were donated to the Lakewood Police.

“The reason we are doing this is because addressing early trauma, both physical and mental, especially for young people, is extremely important,” said Cory Corson, SGA School of Education liaison. “A stuffed animal can really help with emotional trauma. If children are panicking or upset, giving them a small stuffed animal to hug is something to comfort them.”

Service Project Helps Children

Lakewood Police Officer Michael Dennis said the stuffed toys will help the police when they go out to deal with a traumatic situation in which children are involved.

“This gives us something that we can give the kids to comfort them and lift them up a little. Maybe they just witnessed something no child should be see, and this will help make their situation a little easier.”

GCU alumna and Lakewood Police Officer Stephanie Campbell ’10 serves as a member of the Coordinated Community Response Team in GCU’s EMPOWER program, which engages the campus community in preventing, responding, and advocating against sexual assault and relationship violence.

Officer Campbell said the service project also benefits students.

“For the students, it teaches them to give back. It’s really important for them to understand the outside perspective and what occurs on the other end,” said Officer Campbell. “It also helps criminal justice majors understand the other things that the police do, the other aspects of the job, especially when it comes to dealing with kids and victims who’ve been through tragic incidents.”

Serving the Community

Teddy Bears 15 featured
GCU student Megan Barrett, Roary, and GCU student Lauren Azzolini participated together in the teddy bear service project.

GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., noted that the service project embodies the Mercy core values. “We’re very happy to partner with Lakewood Police Department,” Dr. Marbach said. “We know how important it is to serve the community. We want to help contribute in any way we can. We know that domestic violence is a problem, and we want to help the victims.”

Seniors Rosa Franze and Kelly Poltorak, members of the women’s soccer team, stopped by to stuff some bears.

“It’s really awesome and a good thing to support, especially today with all the different things in the media and the news about domestic violence,” Ms. Franze said. “This is awesome that the police are doing this for the children.”

“It’s pretty cool that 10 minutes out of your day can put a smile on the face of someone who’s going through a tough time,” added Ms. Poltorak.

Nicole Mossbacher ’15, GCU’s Office of Violence Against Women program specialist, said that “this really connects and builds our partnership with the Lakewood Police Department by bringing the community together so that we can help our children who are affected by domestic violence. It’s great when we can all join in and pull together a campus-wide event like this.”

To view more photos from the event, visit our Teddy Bears for Tykes photo album.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,200 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 14 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by Money.com and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at HazletGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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