Group uses holiday to give back

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By Sean Robinson, Reporter

Stuffing soared and fuzz flew in the student center on Feb. 14 as hundreds of students participated in Maverick Productions’ second annual “A Beary Happy Valentine’s Day,” an event where students created their own stuffed animals and cards to be given to patients at Children’s Hospital.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., nearly 400 students crammed into the Milo Bail Student Center’s Fireplace Lounge to make 361 Valentine’s Day cards and 61 stuffed animals, which were donated to children at the hospital who have been staying there for long-term treatment or children undergoing emergency procedures.
“I participated because Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday as a kid because you got cards from all your classmates, and these kids at the hospital don’t get that,” said Lauren Bahle, a junior pre-radiation science student. “The cause is close to my heart because I feel bad that those kids are stuck in the hospital.”
While Bahle may have donated a red and purple card adorned with stamped hearts, she also found her Valentine’s Day date during the event-a stuffed pink flamingo. After filling the flamingo with fuzz and zipping him up, Bahle walked away not only donating to the Children’s Hospital but also with her very own stuffed animal.
Most students who participated in the completely free event choose to donate their card and keep the stuffed animal they had crafted, which is how Maverick Productions advertised the event in order to provide students with an extra incentive to attend and make cards for Children’s.
“I think the event ran very well,” Bahle said. “It was messy and fuzz got all over me, but it looked like a lot more people were there compared to last year.”
With hundreds of students filling the Fireside Lounge in just two hours, the event operated at a fast pace. Students had to first make a card using an assortment of construction paper, markers and stamps. Once their card was turned in for donation, members of Maverick Production helped them pick out, stuff and name their new animal buddies. The process took about five minutes per person.
Walking through the crowd were members of UNO’s agency for Gender and Sexual Orientation, carrying bowls filled with free condoms to give away to students. Nearby, Maverick Catholic was handing out roses to female students as they walked in the student center, attached was the message “Chastity.com, you’re worth the wait.”
“The only thing I would change for next year’s event would be maybe holding it in a bigger space,” said Caroline Higgins, a sophomore exercise science major who helped coordinate the event as a member of Maverick Productions. “There were just a lot of people there in a small period of time, but overall I think things couldn’t have gone better.”     
Throughout the event, cards with messages as simple as “Be Mine” to poems like “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Inside You are Beautiful, Hasn’t Anyone Told You” were crafted to be donated. Accompanying the cards were an assortment of stuffed animals that included penguins, bears, lions and bulls.     
“The event is really about giving students the opportunity to help outside the community,” Higgins said. “It’s a good way to teach people that even if you don’t know somebody, you can still help them to feel loved on Valentine’s Day.”

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