South Taranaki Star
As a child Carolyn Cragg was ripped from home in the middle of the night, lost and alone with no comfort in sight.
That is why she's determined to help save every child that is suffering.
Cragg is working to launch "Tedz for the Kidz" in Taranaki next month.
The initiative, started in Tauranga by Suzy Brown, aims to provide toys for children who come under the radar of police and Child Youth and Family.
Cragg became involved because of her extensive charity work, helping kids and families affected by abuse.
"I know what it's like to be that child taken with nothing but the clothes on my back," she said.
"And to get there and have nothing, in a house full of strangers, and just want something to hold onto."
At 11 years old, a young Cragg realised her family's lives needed to change. The daughter of a manic schizophrenic solo mother with multiple personality disorder, Cragg took her younger brother and sister and knocked on the door at Social Welfare. "We desperately had to be safe."
The children were separated and put into care. "Imagine what my little sister, just turning five, with no big sister, nobody and nothing to hold [felt like]," she said. "That's what motivates me, and having children arrive that way."
She has seen hundreds of children in crisis across the North Island put into care, taken out of dangerous or distressing situations, with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. "We have a big problem here," she said.
To get the project going she would need about 10 teddies a month.
The teddy became therapeutic for the child, some would love it and cling to it. In other instances it provided a different type of therapy as the child would use its pent up anger, aggression and hurt on the toy.
"There have been occurrences where those toys have been destroyed by children because they're so angry," Cragg said.
"So it can go either way. It's a great thing either way."
In Tauranga, Brown has enlisted craft groups, resthome residents and even girl guides to make the teddies. "The hand-crafted ones are much more loved by the children they're gifted to," she said. "The children seem to think it comes from the heart."
In Taranaki, Cragg is working with police commanders to build the project up in the region.
She hopes to launch it in May but needs community help to build a stockpile of bears and act as volunteers for the project.
To get involved or find out more search "4thekidz" on Facebook.