By now, most everyone as seen the cuddly P. J. Huggabee teddy bear being sold in Marshall Field's stores throughout the state. Marshall Field's donates one bear to a child in foster care for every bear sold. First Lady Brenda Edgar created the program in 1994 to bring attention to child abuse and neglect, and to provide comfort for children entering DCFS custody. Since 1994, more than 10,000 bears have been donated to DCFS children. Bears purchased by consumers have a tag around their necks which contains information about what child abuse is, how to recognize it and how to report it, including the toll-free hotline number.

Using your best judgment on the age level and need of the child, all children entering protective custody should receive a teddy bear. Each field office has a contact person responsible for distributing bears. For information about the program, please contact Cheryl Conaway, Director of Special Events, at 217-785-1700.

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the First Lady will autograph P.J. bears purchased at Marshall Field's on State Street in Chicago on April 15 from noon to 1 p.m. In addition, Marshall Field's will collect toys and clothing for DCFS children at the State Street store between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please help spread the word about these two important events.