Group donates stuffed animals

WATERLOO – Squad cars and fire trucks will soon have a moose riding shotgun to give comfort to children who find themselves swept up in tragedy.

On Thursday, organizers with Moose Corn Belt Legion 152 donated 144 stuffed moose to the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office and the Waterloo police and fire departments.

Dick Hoffman, past president, said the toys — dubbed Tommy Moose — are designed to help children overcome fears in time of stress.

“Hopefully you never have to use them, but if you come upon something, sometimes that’s all a kid has to hang on to,” Hoffman said.

The plush moose will be placed in emergency vehicles and handed out when deputies, officers and firefighters encounter children while responding to calls, Hoffman said.

“We appreciate the donation, and it’s nice partnership and it’s nice to have that as a resource,” said Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson.

This is the first year local lodges have been involved in the Tommy Moose program. Nationally, the program has been around for years, said Don Williams, secretary for the Corn Belt Legion, which oversees nine Moose Lodges in Nebraska and Iowa, including Waterloo’s Moose Lodge.

“They give them away in different parts of the country, different fire departments, sheriffs’ departments, police departments,” Williams said. He said next year, the Corn Belt Legion will likely give away the plush toys to agencies in its other cities.

The Moose Lodge of Waterloo partners with the sheriff’s office for a Christmas basket program for needy families and hosts fundraisers for its K-9 program.

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