“Ad astra per aspera” is the state motto of Kansas, which translates to “to the stars through difficulties” – a sentiment that has never felt more true than it does today. It emphasizes our values and optimism that, even when faced with the most difficult hardships, we come together as a state and keep our sights set on what’s important. We launched our #AdAstraStrong campaign to highlight “stars” throughout Kansas who are going above and beyond to give back to their community and provide hope during these challenging times.
We have extended this campaign by partnering with the Kansas Association of Community Foundations to recognize communities and organizations that are working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, standing up for racial equality and working to better their local communities. The selected local community foundation promoting its stars will receive a $10,000 donation from our Blue Health Initiatives. Stay tuned for more star stories and stay #AdAstraStrong.
We are excited to recognize our next community star, the teddy bear scavenger hunt, nominated by the Coffeyville Area Community Foundation. We talked with Chantelle Johnson and Allyson Simpson about their efforts to plan the teddy bear scavenger hunt in the community.
What was the teddy bear scavenger hunt?
The teddy bear scavenger hunt was intended to keep children’s minds active while out of school. Members of our community were invited to hide teddy bears around their yard or in their windows. On the day of the hunt, families drove around to hunt for all the teddy bears and stuffed animals.
How did you come up with the idea for the teddy bear scavenger hunt?
We grew up in Caney, Kan., and saw that Caney had done something similar to our teddy bear hunt for their community. We wanted to do something for our new community. We based the teddy bear scavenger hunt off of the song “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” from when we were children in Girl Scouts.
Do you know how many members of your community participated in the scavenger hunt?
We created a Facebook group for the teddy bear scavenger hunt to spread the word about the event and talked to some local businesses. In the end, we had around 400 to 600 people participate in the scavenger hunt. That included adults, children, local businesses and we even had people come in town from nearby communities to participate in hunting for the teddy bears.
Is the scavenger hunt still going on?
The teddy bear scavenger hunt was planned for one day, but most people left their bears out longer than that for families who couldn’t participate on the day of the event. We still see some bears here and there outside or hanging out in people’s windows.
Do you have any other plans to boost the spirits of your community at this time since the teddy bear hunt was so successful?
We are hoping to be able to do another teddy bear hunt later on once things calm down again. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the kids will still get to trick or treat on Halloween, but if they can’t, hopefully we can come up with a fun alternative to that.
How has your community been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like all other communities, ours has been affected a lot. Daycares and schools shut down for the year early, and the kids ended up missing out on all the normal summer activities. Since the children in our community were so affected, we were glad to give them something fun to do outside of the house at a safe distance.
What is something you’d like the people in your community to know? Or, something you’d like to tell all of them?
We hope we can all come together to do more things like the teddy bear hunt. For one day, no one was worried about what was happening in the world and we were just enjoying the day and having fun with our families. We are proud of how everyone came together to make this happen for our community and our children.