Update: The stuffed animal drive originally scheduled for this weekend at Zube Park in Hockley has been rescheduled for next month!
Beginning at 11 a.m. on SATURDAY (Dec. 7) and SUNDAY (Dec. 8), Houston police officers will once again team up with teenage lacrosse players and local agencies to help children affected by violent crime.
As part of the fifth annual “Remembering Julia” campaign, HPD officers, The Cy-Fair Girls Lacrosse Association and the Girl Scouts of America will collect stuffed animals during a lacrosse tournament at Zube Park in Hockley. The stuffed animals will then be given to children affected by violent crimes.
The effort was conceived in 2009 by then-13-year-old Julia Briggs, who wanted to ensure children of homicide victims, witnesses or suspects had something to hold and comfort them during what can be a traumatic time. Tragically, Julia died from a rare form of cancer shortly after proposing the project to her lacrosse coach, HPD Homicide Division Sergeant Brian Harris. At her funeral, Sergeant Harris spoke of her desire to help those children. To his delight, Julia’s family, friends and teammates took up her cause.
Every year since her death, the stuffed animal drive has grown. Last year, every HPD division that deals with violent crime victims received donations. In addition, more than 24 other local agencies have benefited from Julia’s vision.
Sergeant Harris saw firsthand the impact Julia’s dream had on a 9-year-old girl who witnessed the beating of her younger brother.
“She picked out this huge stuffed animal and held on to it during the interview,” Sergeant Harris said. “Her face lit up when she was told she could take it home. It was then I realized this is what Julia was talking about.”
Donations of new stuffed animals will be accepted during the two-day lacrosse tournament.