South Bend sends teddy bears to undocumented children - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend sends teddy bears to undocumented children

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Community activists hope teddy bears humanize Central American immigrantion crisis Community activists hope teddy bears humanize Central American immigrantion crisis
SOUTH BEND - The topic of immigration reform has been a controversial one in this country. But South Bend humanitarian efforts serve as a reminder, regardless of what side of the issue you're on, that the lives most impacted by the result, are those of the children.

Holy Cross student Evelyn Gonzalez of South Bend is counting teddy bears to stuff into the back of her car. For the past couple of weeks, local schools and nonprofit organizations have donated a total of 325 bears.

They'll be headed to Chicago in the morning.

Last month, the Archdiocese there opened its doors to 450 undocumented Central American children. Less than two hours away, it's the nearest shelter openly housing child refugees.

Drive participants hope the bear collection helps humanize the collateral damage from the border crisis.

"They're not these adults coming across the border to steal your job,” said Joe Carbone of Jobs With Justice in South Bend. “Or teenagers looking to form gangs in our inner cities. They're actually children."

The fate of thousands of Central American children is still up in the air, but in the meantime, community activists hope these bears, will give them something they can hold on to.

"In most cases,” said Gonzalez. “They're alone. They traveled here alone. So it gives them a sense of protection and security. The fact that they can actually own something."

They've seen protestors,” said Sam Centellas of La Casa de Amistad. The nonprofit organization works with first and second generation Latin American immigrants, and hosted the final day collection and bear count. “They've seen all that, so we also wanna show that there is compassion in this country. and that there are people here who love and support them."

Thanks to teddy bear contributions like Gonzalez's and from across the county, the Chicago Archdiocese says it expects more than 800 stuffed animals this weekend.

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