It was a Monday like any other when two members of the Tender Critters committee, Sue Kelly and Jeannie Horton, went to Cox Medical Center in Branson to check on the supply of Tender Critters. These stuffed animals are highly anticipated by the ER staff and volunteers because they give them to children who visit the ER or need to stay in the hospital or have family who are being treated in the ER – a small gift to help provide comfort to children going through a stressful or traumatic experience.
This morning, however, wasn’t like any other – the supply was gone except for 2 lone stuffed animals at the bottom of the holding pen. The committee checks on the supply every week and this was the first time in memory that they had run out. But then it dawned on the ladies that the Branson Duck Boat had capsized and the tragedy on Table Rock Lake had occurred four days earlier. The families of the 17 people who died, ranging in age from 1 to 70, the others who were in hospital being treated at Cox Medical Center, and the other survivors were still going through the shock, along with the rest of our community.
And then it occurred to Sue and Jeannie and the other members of the committee, that this is the reason why Junior Auxiliary makes sure that the ER and the Branson and Hollister Police Departments have Tender Critters to give to children in their times of sorrow. As Cathy Brown told the ladies at our new membership tea, it is with tears and smiles that we think about these Tender Critters with a little tag around its neck that says “Hope this critter helps brighten your day! Junior Auxiliary of Taney County” and wish for them to bring just a little bit of comfort to these children.
We rely on our members and our community to help us supply over 2000 Tender Critters each year and pray that we will never have such a huge need at one time ever again, but we will keep the Critter pen full, just in case!