By Joseph Pratt
Brooke Pierron, 2014 Miss Notre Dame, is preparing for her pageant platform, in which she has dedicated to children who have undergone physical and psychological trauma. Pierron is calling her platform “Little Gift for Little Souls.”
“My class was involved a shooting our fifth grade year and we instantly received all kinds of support,” Pierron recalled. “One thing we received that I believe helped a lot of people was when people sent in blankets and stuffed animals, because we were all scared and had trouble sleeping for a while.”
Pierron said that the animals and blankets helped many of the students and most have them to this day.
With this idea in mind, Pierron has decided to host a stuffed animal drive at Notre Dame.
Gatti’s Pizza, Market Street Café, Holy Redeemer and Saint Mary’s are currently collecting donations for the drive and will continue the drive until the day of her event. People are also welcome to bring stuffed animals to the event as well.
Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati, Catholic Services of Portsmouth and Wilson’s Children’s Home of Adams County will all be recipients of the care packages.
Pierron said that most of her classmates have promised to show up at the event, and they’ve even committed to bringing the gifts they received after the school shooting just seven years ago, which will be displayed during the drive.
“I feel like it is really hard at the time of an incident, but it always has a way of getting better, like it was meant to happen,” Pierron said, when confronted about the shooting she was faced with. “Everything happens for a reason and I think a lot more good came from it, because my graduating class is so close now. We are all like brothers and sisters. I mean, we were always close to one another, but I feel like going through such a traumatic event has brought us closer together. We have something shared that no one else understands.”
Darrell Rudmann, Shawnee State University psychology professor, references the importance of a security item going back to studies completed in the 1960’s, which changed the way people saw the importance of mothering. A study seemed to reflect that mothering was more importantly based on nurturing, caring and loving, rather than just providing nutrition.
“Studies show that something as small as a blanket can produce huge benefits in terms of a child’s happiness, their sense of belonging, their ability to be social with other people and those kinds of things,” Rudmann said. “It might not even be the blanket, but the effort. Someone reaching out to a child and saying ‘Hey, I noticed you. We know you went through this. You’re important to us and we care about you. So, here is a token for that.’ Really, it isn’t just the tangible aspect, but the recognition that goes into that comfort factor.”
Pierron said that she will open the drive with a speech and will then move into the work, in which people will be completing different tasks at various stations. Some stations will be cutting material for blankets, others will be sorting stuffed animals and more.
“I heard from other girls about how fun the River Days Pageant is and how it brought them together, my mom did it when she was in school, my friends always supported the idea; I had a lot of support when considering running or not,” Pierron said.
Pierron said that she has already worked with many of the other girls involved with the pageant and has made friends with a lot of them.
“It is really interesting to work with the other girls and seeing what they are interested in and passionate about,” Pierron said. “Everyone’s platform is so different and it has just been great to see that. We’ve all grown really close pretty fast. We all get along and enjoy getting to know each other.”
The drive at Notre Dame will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 13 in Notre Dame High School’s gymnasium.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.