VALPARAISO | For the second year, Jeff Brown, owner of Two Men and a Truck, donated the use of a truck, a driver and gas to deliver stuffed animal reading buddies to classrooms across Northwest Indiana for United Way's I Need a Hug program.
Valparaiso University softball team members volunteered to prepare the stuffed animals for delivery to classrooms. They also followed the truck to help deliver the stuffed animals and lead the distribution of reading buddies at the first school.
Kenwood Elementary in Hammond held a lottery among its four second grade classrooms to choose their new reading buddies. The VU softball team members led the lottery.
Receiving a total of 2,310 stuffed animals to serve as first- and second-grade reading buddies and crisis tools for guidance counselors, were 102 classrooms from Hammond to Hebron to Michigan City and everything in between.
There is a waiting list for classrooms who would like to participate. United Way is looking for organizations, businesses, churches and school groups to host drives for new 12- to 16-inch stuffed animals. Visit nwivolunteer.org to start a drive.
For information, call Mackenna Dickt, volunteer coordinator, at (219) 464-3583, ext. 129.