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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
The annual Comfort Bear Toy Drive, which helps children who have been struck with tragedy, runs through April 7 for the Arizona Highway Patrol Association.
AHPA has teamed up with Valley Famous Dave's restaurants to help collect new stuffed animals for officers to hand out. All you have to do is drop off a new stuffed animal at any of the four Famous Dave's locations throughout the Valley beginning Tuesday through April 7 and Famous Dave's will give you a free, two-meat combination lunch meal for every donation, while supplies last.
The stuffed animals have been nicknamed "Comfort Bears." The collected stuffed animals are shared with law enforcement officers across the state and are kept in the trunks of their cars to be handed out as needed.
"We try to put a stuffed bear in every patrol car in the state so that when an officer comes across a situation with a child, it offers them a chance to comfort that child," according to DPS Sgt. Bill Rogers.
The last several years the Comfort Bear Toy Drive has raised roughly 2,000 stuffed animals, according to AHPA. They are hoping the numbers are bigger this year because of need and the positive impact they have had in the community.
There are four Famous Dave's locations:
3250 W. Frye Rd. in Chandler
16148 N. 83rd Ave. in Peoria
2206 E. Williams Field Rd. in the San Tan Village in Gilbert
1011 Dobson Rd. in Mesa
Rogers said he hopes enough stuffed animals are donated to put at least one in every DPS patrol car in the state to offer children caught in traumatic situations a little comfort.
"Because often we come across them in a tragic situation, a car accident or domestic violence, and we need some kind of communication mechanism to get through to the child to comfort them," Rogers said.
"You see a child take that bear and it comforts him," Rogers said. "He holds it and understands the world will be a better place again, and that's worth it."
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