By Frank Lewis
Children can be traumatized in a moment’s notice by something completely out of their control. For example, they can be made suddenly homeless by a house fire, or they can be with their family one minute, and taken by a police agency to safety a minute later as part of a drug raid.
It is with these children in mind that the Portsmouth Lions Club has put together a program to provide supplies, toys and toiletry items to be given to those children by the Portsmouth Police Department, the Portsmouth Fire Department and the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office.
Members of those agencies joined with Lions Club members Monday evening at Giovanni’s on 11th Street in Portsmouth to fill bags.
“We wanted to do something for the community. Not for somebody else,” Alma Teufel, president of the Portsmouth Lions Club, said. “So for the fire department, the police department and the sheriff’s department, we’re fixing care packages for children under six, who, like if the house is burning down, they’re in crisis and they don’t quite understand what is happening to them.”
Teufel said each care package contains a blanket, a stuffed toy, toothbrush and toothpaste.
“The law enforcement and the fire department and everybody has been in here and helped us tremendously,” Teufel said. “They’re willing to be part of it, and this is not done for anybody except the children.”
“Officers encounter a variety of situations in which young children are present. We hope that all encounters are pleasant, but the reality is that police encounters with small children often involve stressful or traumatic experiences for the children involved,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “Calming children can be a huge help when conducting policing activities. The backpacks offered by the Lions Club will go a long way in helping officers connect with small children in times of need. We are grateful for the efforts and support of the Lions Club in partnering with the Portsmouth Police Department to brighten the lives of children in our community and build positive relationships with responding officers.”
Teufel said the Lions Club performs a service to the community.
“This is something that has been here so many years, and yet we’re so few,” Teufel said. “We need to grow and make a statement. We’re not here just for Lions. We deal in eye transplants, eye Enucleation. It’s sent from the local hospital straight to Columbus, and that’s free of charge for the community.”
Teufel said the Lions Club is in desperate need of new members to carry on the community service work.
“We’ve been in existence since 1923 as a club,” Teufel said. “We don’t have a lot of members. We’re always looking for new ones.”
She said anyone interested in joining the Lions Club can talk with a Lions Club member or contact Lou Teufel at 740-259-5205.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.