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ASKENAS CHIROPRACTIC GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

photo of blanket drive by our pearl river chiropractorThis past November, Askenas Chiropractic completed its 12th Annual Blanket Drive.  In November, 2005, Dr. Todd B. Askenas initiated Askenas Chiropractic's first annual Blanket Drive. Since then, the Blanket Drive has been repeated each November, right around the time of Thanksgiving.  During the course of one week each fall, Dr. Askenas encourages his patients and members of the community to donate blankets for the benefit of Rockland County residents in need. The United Way of Rockland helps Askenas Chiropractic dispense these blankets to local families.  During the week-long Blanket Drive, Dr. Askenas provides a free chiropractic adjustment for any existing patient who donates a blanket, and a free consultation and examination for any new patient who donates a blanket.  Since the first Blanket Drive in 2005, thousands of blankets have been collected and donated to the United Way of Rockland County for distribution to local organizations that help feed and clothe the poor.

Inspired by the success of the blanket drive and by the generosity of his patients, Dr. Askenas again decided to reach out to the community. In February, 2006, Dr. Askenas initiated Askenas Chiropractic's first Teddy Bear Drive. The Teddy Bear Drive set out to collect stuffed animals to be given to the Orangetown Police Department. The goal was to provide each police car with teddy bears that would allow officers to provide something soft and comforting to give to children that have been involved in traumatic situations (e.g. a car accident, a house fire, or a domestic dispute). During the week-long drive, Dr. Askenas provided a free chiropractic adjustment for any existing patient who donated a bear, and a free consultation and examination for any new patient who donated a bear. Amazingly, the Drive collected over 1,300 Teddy Bears and other stuffed animals that were donated to various local police departments, fire departments, ambulance corps, hospitals, and family shelters.

The overwhelming success of Dr. Askenas' Teddy Bear Drive was covered in several different news articles appearing in The Journal News.

"Pearl River drive seeks to make children's contact with police more bearable"
By KHURRAM SAEED

Teddy_Bear_Drive_sm.jpgPEARL RIVER Chiropractor Todd Askenas has treated many car-accident victims over the years, and he has noticed how many of his patients anguished over their children's reactions to seeing their parents taken to the hospital.

That gave Askenas an idea.

What if children in traumatic situations, such as a house fire or domestic dispute, were given stuffed animals by police to help them cope with their feelings?

"The teddy bears are going to be there to help comfort them, and they can keep them," Askenas said. "It alleviates their fears, and I think it's a positive for the police departments because the kids know they can trust the police."

Askenas' teddy-bear drive (although any new or gently used stuffed animal 10 inches or taller will do) will run from Feb. 27 to March 4. The Orangetown Police Department will receive the toys.

The concept is not new. Other communities around the nation offer it, and Orangetown had a similar program about nine years ago.

Orangetown Police Officer Joseph Sullivan, who is working with Askenas, said that after police officers gave the children something they could relate to, the officers had an easier time talking on a personal level to children who might be victims or witnesses to crimes.

"This is kind of like an icebreaker," Sullivan said. "That child is in a stressful situation and they may be intimidated by a police officer, a stranger, a stranger with a gun. ... It takes the edge off."

The stuffed animals would be placed in plastic bags and carried in the trunks of the town's 22 police cruisers, next to oxygen containers and fire extinguishers.

Stuffed animals can be dropped off at Askenas' Pearl River office. As an incentive, he is offering a free exam or treatment to new and existing patients until the available slots fill up, who bring in stuffed animals during that week.

"I'm always a little greedy," Askenas said. "I would really like 250 to 300" stuffed animals.

The key is that they must be large enough to be huggable.

"We figured 10 inches should be the bare minimum," the 38-year-old New City resident joked.

The timing is not accidental. Askenas figured that there might be a lot of teddy bears lying around after Valentine's Day.

[Saeed, Khurram. "Pearl River drive seeks to make children's contact with police more bearable." The Journal News 13 Feb. 2006.]


"Comforting the young"

It is always a blessing when a child is somehow hurt or troubled and an adult can provide comfort. Often, local police are in such a position to help.
And, now thanks to the generosity of Rocklanders and Pearl River chiropractor Todd Askenas, some of these children will have teddy bears to hug in their difficult time.

As staff writer Khurram Saeed has reported, Askenas has treated many auto accident victims over the years, and he has noticed how his patients anguished over their children's reactions to seeing their parents taken to the hospital. He obviously recalls his own childhood and remembers his teddy bear, for Askenas decided that children in traumatic situations, such as a house fire or domestic dispute too, should be given stuffed animals by police to help them cope. Something to comfort themselves, "someone" to hug.

"The teddy bears are going to be there to help comfort them, and they can keep them. It alleviates their fears, and I think it's a positive for the police departments because the kids know they can trust the police," he says. Yes.

Askenas' teddy-bear drive (large enough to be huggable) will run from Monday, Feb. 27, to March 4. The Orangetown Police Department will receive the toys. Other communities around the nation offer a similar program, and Orangetown had one about nine years ago.

Town Police Officer Joseph Sullivan, who is working with Askenas, notes that after police give children something they can relate to, the officers have an easier time talking on a personal level to those who might be victims or witnesses to crimes: "This is kind of like an icebreaker. That child is in a stressful situation and they may be intimidated by a police officer, a stranger, a stranger with a gun. . . . It takes the edge off."

The stuffed animals will be placed in plastic bags and carried in the trunks of the town's 22 police cruisers, next to oxygen containers and fire extinguishers. And who knows, given the stressful, grinding, often thankless nature of police work, maybe just the thought of hauling teddy bears around might just give the police some comfort.

We urge all Rockland law enforcement, including police, the Sheriff's Department and district attorney investigators, to collect their own bears in this "carry a bear for a child" effort.

["Comforting the Young." The Journal News 25 Feb. 2006.]

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