HATTIESBURG – Six years ago, a cousin of University of Southern
Mississippi senior Kayla Grice found himself in the middle of
a terrible accident in which he received a concussion. Despite
the frightening moments that ensued, what the now 15-year-old
remembers most about the incident is the Dalmatian stuffed animal
toy that officers gave him in their efforts to ease the pain
of his traumatic experience.
To this day, the stuffed toy remains close to Nathan Grice’s
heart, and it is the primary motivation behind the Southern
Miss Campus Civitan Club’s annual Bears on Patrol drive.
Formed three years ago by his cousin and former club president
Grice, Bears on Patrol aims to collect stuffed animals for the
Hattiesburg Police Department (HPD) to carry in their patrol
cars to console children involved in upsetting events, according
to Crystal Broome, current president of the Civitan Club.
The bear drive is a growing success as the university community
has donated 387 bears this year, exceeding last year’s total
of 350. Hattiesburg Police Captain D.J. Davis said he’s personally
witnessed the benefits the bears have provided not only for
the community but for the department, too.
HPD’s Community Development Specialist Robin Walker agrees
that Bears on Patrol has made a significant influence in that
officers are able to establish a positive relationship between
youth and law enforcement, even in the midst of a negative experience.
“When a child is involved in an accident, no matter the severity,
they can be afraid of what is going on around them and intimidated
by a uniformed police officer,” said Walker. “The officer is
able to use the stuffed animal to make a connection with that
The effectiveness of the bear drive has made Broome and fellow
members of the Southern Miss Campus Civitan Club very proud
and eager to do more.
“I believe it is very important to make a difference in our
community,” said Broome. “It is up to us to make our own community
the best it can be. We can’t sit back and wait for someone else
to do it.”
The Southern Miss Campus Civitan Club is now in its fifth
year. Created by Southern Miss Student Activities Secretary
Melissa Carpenter, the organization is constantly involved in
projects that benefit the campus and the Pine Belt community
as a whole. The group has spearheaded numerous charitable events
raising money for the Civitan International Research Center,
the Special Olympics and the March of Dimes.
In February, the organization was rewarded the 2005 International
Service Project of the Year award for a project dubbed “Fill
the Stocking Toy Drive and Party.” Other awards include the
International Honor Club Award and the 2005 Campus Club of the
Year. The group has also racked up on individual honors.
To learn more about Bears on Patrol and the Southern Miss
Campus Civitan Club, call 601-266-5568.
The URL of this document is: