What do you call an 11-year-old girl whose family lost everything in a fire six months ago and who collects stuffed toys for kids who have gone through tragedies of their own or are entering foster care?
At the Montesano VFW Auxiliary, they call her Lilly Delahanty, official Teddy Bear Officer for the club’s Auxiliary.
Bins were placed at the Montesano VFW and at Lilly’s school, Simpson Elementary, where people could drop off donations. By the time she and her mom, Ciara Brough, brought them all to the Children’s Administration Office in Aberdeen Friday, she had collected four times the number she donated to Connections (then the Children’s Advocacy Center) in Montesano last year.
VFW Auxiliary President T.J. Glick was there as well, along with Auxiliary Secretary Diane Nillson. They said a number of the bears came from three sources.
“My friend Jen Osina donated a lot of them when her mom died,” said Brough. “Tina Gleeson and Carol Lunceford donated a lot,” said Glick.
As the entire staff of the administration office came out to pose for pictures with the heaping pile of plush toys, Becky Sanchez, Child and Family Welfare Services Supervisor, explained how the toys would be distributed.
“When children are entering foster care we offer them something of comfort,” she said. The year before, Connections gave them to children who were victims of violence or sex crimes to calm them during counseling and questioning.
Lilly has been through tragedy herself. In the early morning hours of June 8, the house in Central Park where she lived with her parents and younger brother burned to the ground. The family lost everything, and just now Brough said their new place is “just starting to feel like home.” Through it all, she still collected stuffed toys for other kids.
“She still wanted to do it,” said her dad, Warren Brough, a veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Ciara is a life member of the Montesano VFW Auxiliary.