Bears, blankets gathered to soothe children after accidents

St. Charles UMC’s Vacation Bible School class with their donations.

When Melissa Barrios was asked to head a service project for fourth- and fifth-graders, she thought back on the serious wreck she was in 25 years ago with her two cousins and knew what they had to do.

“Roar: Life is scary but God is good,” became the project’s theme at St. Charles United Methodist Church in Destrehan.

It was driven by Barrios’ own experience.

“When the first responders got there, I was bad off,” she recalled of the accident that nearly took her life. “The two kids with me had injuries but they were traumatized by the situation. The thought was if our EMS or fire department had these at least the kids would have had security with the animal and a blanket. The thought was, ‘Just to let them know life is scary but God is good so you’re going to be okay.’”

Barrios decided her Vacation Bible School kids would put together 40 sets with a stuffed animal and blanket to donate to the EMS and East St. Charles Volunteer Fire Department as a local mission. They both came to the church to each get 20 sets and made a day of it, also giving the children hats and stickers.

“They came and let the children from VBS tour the trucks and they gave them tours of the ambulances,” said Abby Tizzard, the church’s director. “It turned into a big giving of everything.”

Tizzard said their service projects started a few years ago when she took over children’s ministries at the church. They’ve done goodie bags for local policemen, and now this service project will put the toys and blankets in emergency vehicles to comfort children.

Their mission work is typically overseas, but she said they decided it was time to do local missions, too.

For the parish, it was mission accomplished.

“It turned into a big giving of everything.” — Abby Tizzard

“These stuffed animals and blankets will stay on the fire trucks so they are available at any emergency scene for children that may be scared or if someone just needs some comforting,” according to the fire department.

The children worked two days for the church’s food pantry and then two days working on the items for the children in trauma.

“Our kids loved it,” Barrios said. “They knew they were helping others and discussed it every day.”

It was a pretty good experience for the adults, too.

“I cried,” Tizzard said of the time they shared with EMS and the fire department. “It brings tears to your eyes to see how you’re giving to them and then seeing them giving back to your kids.”

Who is St. Charles UMC?

  • The church provides prayer and financial support for numerous global missions in Mexico, Cuba and Africa.
  • The church also supports a wide variety of local missions in both the area and surrounding states.
  • The Matthews 25:35 Food Pantry, partnered with Second Harvest since 2014, distributes food every Wednesday and Sunday. The mission also draws volunteers from throughout the parish.


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