You know how you felt really terrible about the Newtown shootings and wanted to do something for the families and thought, “Hey, what they really need right now is a teddy bear from a complete stranger”? Stop right there. They’re good on teddy bears.
Despite the town’s pleas that people stop mailing them children’s toys, tens of thousands of them are pouring in. No one has any need or room for that many toys, so they have to be housed in a giant warehouse and require a volunteer staff of hundreds to sort through.
A task force has been set up to coordinate the more than 800 volunteers who have been working to sort the gifts, open mail and answer the thousands of emails and phone calls offering assistance.
The volunteers have begun making a dent in the pile of tens of thousands of teddy bears that stretched to the warehouse ceiling. By last week, they had sorted 30,000 of them into small, medium and large sizes, catalogued them and put them in boxes. They are also separating and boxing piles of crayons, pencils, books and much more.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child in such a way, but I can imagine that I probably wouldn’t want thousands of toys sent to me. Crayons? Pencils? No thanks, I’ll just buy some more if I need them. This sounds like a logistical nightmare. Surely those 800 people could be doing something more useful with their time. It’s no doubt comforting to know the entire country is grieving with you, but this torrent of toys completely unsolicited by the families seems done to make the sender feel better about themselves, feel that they are doing something, and we’re all about feeling good about ourselves with minimal thought and effort. It also strikes me as a bit tacky and macabre to flood the parents of murdered children with so many toys they can literally stack them to the ceiling.
What to do with this tonnage of teddy bears? The New York Times reports that it will all be pulverized into bricks used in the eventual memorial.