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SOYA stuffed bears allowing organization to give back

Mayor Matthew Shoemaker will proclaim April 16, 2023 as ‘The National Day of Action on the Overdose Epidemic’ in Sault Ste. Marie at tonight's meeting of city council
A SOYA teddy bear seen at the Memorial Wall in front of the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre.

A local front line organization dealing with families affected by drug addiction has taken in a large donation of stuffed bears and created a program to distribute them back to children in the community.

Save Our Young Adults From Drug Abuse, better known as SOYA, recently received a donation of 96 stuffed bears from a company that does not wish to be named.

The organization’s volunteers made purple scarves for each of the 96 donated bears so they can be distributed to members of the community, said founder Connie Raynor-Elliott.

“Children love stuffies. It was just a way of SOYA giving back. We give them to kids coming into the depot,” said Raynor-Elliott. “It was funny because people wanted to buy them and they are not for sale, it’s SOYA giving back to the community because the community has helped SOYA so much.”

So far, the bears have also been given to Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services, Women In Crisis - Algoma, Children’s Aid Society of Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.

The primary intention of the bears is to offer them to children that SOYA. And those groups come across when dealing with difficult situations.

“All of a sudden I am at the hospital or at someone’s house and they have little ones and they are upset and we try to calm them, now we just do it with the teddy bears,” said Raynor-Elliott.

On April 18, SOYA Is hosting its free Family Matters Conference at the Holiday Inn Express. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Earlier events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Raynor-Elliott.

“We are getting it up and running again,” she said.

Pizza and desserts will be served and the event will showcase local agencies and guest speakers.

Raynor-Elliott and other members of SOYA will be on hand at the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre Tuesday evening for the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Matthew Shoemaker naming April 16, 2023 as ‘The National Day of Action on the Overdose Epidemic’ in Sault Ste. Marie.

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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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