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PHL17: Local organization collecting stuffed animals to comfort abused children

PHL17's Amanda VanAllen spoke with the Gonzalez family about their experience at PCA ahead of the annual Bear Affair

May 4, 2022

It was the worst time in her life.

“I was very angry and very wound up and very to myself, at least with my thoughts,” said Naya Rivera.

Rivera was sexually abused at 14 years old and her mother, Linda Gonzalez, scrambled to her find her daughter resources to get through it all.

“Having that support and knowing there’s someone in your corner, it just makes it, it makes a world of difference,” said Gonzalez.

The family eventually found Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.

“It doesn’t stop after you bring it up. You’re going through it every day, every second and PCA just kind of helps you go through that, not just the child but the family,” said Rivera.

PCA is the only place in the city that conducts forensic interviews with sexually abused children, makes referrals for medical and mental health services and help families navigate the legal system.

“This work can be challenging,” said Vickie Melvin, the associate director of Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.

“We are hearing difficult cases or information from children and families everyday, its very stressful but when we think about it I always say, if its not us then who would it be?”

Melvin says the organization needs your help, its needs donations of stuffed animals.

“Every child that comes through our doors for a forensic interview, including the siblings, who may just be coming in to be with the family, they receive a stuffed animal,” said Melvin.

The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance unfortunately needs lots of stuffed animals. It says it goes through about 3,000 of them a year.

Thursday, May 5th the organization is holding its annual fund raiser, The Bear Affair, at 6pm at Lincoln Financial Field.

There’s a silent and live auction to make money for the organization and supporters bring stuffed animals for the kids.

“I still have it to this day,” said Rivera. “It’s one of my good luck charms.”

Even after all these years, Rivera says she still keeps her bear close.

“It just kind of reminds me that I’ve been through so much, and I probably will go through so much,” she said. “Life is always going and I look at it like, if you got through this, you can get through anything.”

If you can’t make it to the event, but what to donate stuffed animals to PCA, Melvin says you can stop by the headquarters at 300 E. Hunting Park Ave in Philadelphia anytime of year and drop them off.

Read the full story here.

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