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Stuffed with kindness

Valencia mom helping kids with hospital teddy bear drive

Posted: April 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Miles Benson sits for a portrait with his mother, Amanda Benson, and sister, Audrey Benson, at the leasing office of their apartment in Valencia. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Valencia resident Miles Benson is 13 years old now, but he was just 8 when he had a terrifying experience that landed him in the hospital.

During a trip to the pool, Miles had just jumped into the water when a little girl did a cannonball after him. Her chin struck Miles on his cheek bone near his right eye.

“I was definitely crying, and I was scared because I’d never had an injury that close to my eye before, and it was pretty painful,” Miles recalled during an interview Monday at his home. “It’s frantic when you’re trying to swim upwards and get out of the pool as fast as you can and get to the hospital in time.”

His mother, Amanda, drove him to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, where he was attended by an emergency room doctor and nurse. And there was a woman, a volunteer for the hospital, who saw Miles’ fear and pain and handed him a teddy bear for comfort.

A teenager now, Miles Benson still has that teddy bear, which he named “Stitchy” a little brown bear with blue ribbon around his neck, reminds him of that day and the kindness of a stranger. For his mother, she recalled how calming the gift was for her boy.
Four years later, a flyer for a teddy bear drive at the hospital made it to her desk. She remembered the accident, and the difference the gift made for her son. 

Inspired, she decided to get involved, both to promote the act of kindness for other children who go through the ER while being a lesson in kindness for her son and daughter.

“Between 2012 and 2013, there were an additional 1,200 children who came through the ER,” she said. “You want to be able to take care of the kids who come in to the ER. It’s a tiny tool that works so well.”

After approaching her manager at the Hyatt Regency about getting involved, she reached out to her business partners, and got 14 of them to hold their own teddy bear drives for the hospital.

“This was just in September. We collected 127 bears,” she said. “We piled them all in the back of our car, drove over to the hospital and donated them, and they were just thrilled.”

The drive will continue through the month of April. She is working with volunteers from the hospital to raise 10,000 bears or plush animals to be donated.

Others around her have been inspired by the idea as well. She recalled a little girl who, during her birthday in March, asked her friends to bring teddy bears instead of gifts. She donated over 30 of them.

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