(IRON MOUNTAIN, MI.)–First National Bank and Trust’s Project Teddy Bear initiative was started with the goal of collecting new stuffed toys for donation to local area emergency responders and crisis centers. Studies show that giving a toy provides comfort, reduces anxiety and offers a distraction to a potentially traumatic experience for a child. When given by a first responder or healthcare worker it can also help build trust. Project Teddy Bear kicked off in November with a family fun day at Recreation Lanes. This was followed by the November 30th Teddy Bear Toss event at Mountain View Ice Arena during the Kingsford vs. Jeffers hockey game, where they collected 176 new stuffed toys. After continuing to collect donations throughout December at First National Bank & Trust locations, Project Teddy Bear was able to donate over 350 stuffed toys and on Friday, January 12th, area emergency and crisis services representatives met at First National Bank & Trust’s downtown location to receive the donations collected by Project Teddy Bear. “All of these events have been great fun for a great cause. While the emergency responders were here to receive the donations they shared how much of a positive impact a teddy bear has on children involved in crisis situations,” said Tanya DalSanto of First National Bank & Trust. “We are very pleased to be able to help them make a positive difference and help comfort children during difficult times. This was our first Project Teddy Bear drive and we look forward to continuing it and growing it every year.” “When an ill or injured child comes through our hospital doors that child’s well-being is our top priority from the minute they arrive until that child is able to go home. The smile on a child’s face when a nurse brings in a Teddy Bear for them is beyond words, not to mention the smiles coming from mom and dad,” said Todd Essendrup, Dickinson County Healthcare System Trauma Coordinator. “This small gesture to a child becomes an instant pain reliever. This small gesture takes the scary moment away. Within minutes of handing a child a Teddy Bear, the child already has it named. Yes, we can provide children with medications and perform intervention for them, but it’s that very simple act of kindness from one person to another that is remembered for a very long time.” Project Teddy Bear is part of First National Bank and Trust’s ongoing dedication to supporting and strengthening our community and will be continuing in fall 2018.