Left Behind: Eric’s Comforting Critters

Elmo

What if you were suddenly and permanently removed from everything you knew as home with nothing familiar to grasp or hold onto? What if this happened when you were only a child? Unfortunately, too many children across this country and beyond know that feeling.

All too often when children are taken from homes that are not fit to enter foster care, they must leave everything behind. I know a young man who wants to do something to help out with this situation.

Several years ago, some of our friends in ministry adopted a sibling group out of foster care. The specifics are not mine to share, but their living conditions were atrocious. When the oldest, Eric, entered foster care he had to leave his favorite stuffed animal behind. The Elmo pictured above was given to him by his foster mother to provide him some comfort and is still a family treasure.

Eric is now on a crusade to collect stuffed animals for foster children in the county in which he lived at the time. He wants children to have a lifeline to grab onto as soon as possible when they are taken from their homes. As a result, he has started “Eric’s Comforting Critters.”

Teaching generosity is hard. Helping children become empathetic for other children proves difficult when they have not had the same experiences. I excitedly told my boys about Eric’s endeavor. I told them I would take them to go pick out a stuffed animal to give to his cause. My youngest whined, “I don’t want to. I want to get one for me!”

The oldest reminded him he has more than enough stuffed animals of his own. Little man replied with a snarky comment. My temper flared and I gritted my teeth. “What if we suddenly had to leave home for good and we had to leave Yoggie behind?” I gently prodded. (If you haven’t met Yoggie, you can read about him in a previous post here.)

Tears welled up in his eyes. Suddenly, he didn’t have anything else to say. He happily picked out a stuffed animal to give away tonight when we visited the store.

This was our first attempt at picking out an animal:

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We got to the checkout line and realized one of them had a hole in the arm (we had already traded one because of a hole in the back). Marching all the way back to the back of the store, we decided on some that looked a bit more substantial. Here you can see their second selections:

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In one final attempt to soften their hearts, I asked if they would want to buy an extra animal with their own money. That suggestion quickly received an, “I don’t think so.” Baby steps. Just being real, friends! Some children are naturally more compassionate than others. I’m glad Eric is using his experience to show kindness to other kids who end up in circumstances like he knew all too well.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can do so using this link on PayPal. If you live in my hometown, please email me at jlanham@bluemarble.net and I can give you information on where to deliver your stuffed animal. According to his mom, “The stuffed animals should be new and Eric suggests that they be a larger stuffed animal that you can truly hug and snuggle up with. The softer the better…you may need to hug a bunch of stuffed animals in the store to test them out!!” I would love to have pictures of you or your kids with any stuffed animals you purchase so Eric and his mom can see them.

Let’s give this courageous young man who is stepping out and taking a risk some help with his endeavor. So proud of my friends who are raising up a generation of world changers!

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