VENTURA : Firefighters to Give Victims Teddy Bears

The Ventura Fire Department next month will begin stocking its engines with an unusual piece of equipment--teddy bears.

City firefighters will hand out the 11-inch-tall stuffed animals to help soothe children who are victims of accidents or fires, spokesman Barry Simmons said.

"It will give them some instant gratification and maybe help ease the pain," he said.

The brown-and-white teddy bears, known as Buffy Bears, are donated by the Assistance League of Ventura County, a community service organization that helps children, Simmons said.

The cuddly toys are handed out by Ventura and Oxnard police, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office, Assistance League spokeswoman Peggy Purnell said.

More than 200 of the teddy bears have been given out since the program began last year, she said.

"It really seems to fill a need children have to cuddle something," Purnell said.

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