• From left to right- Payton Waldrop, Sadie Downs, nurse Jessica Leverich and Natalie Hale. All three girls have been members of the club from its inception. Burleson Star/Bethann Coldiron

Clinkscale jr. nurse club gives back to sick kids

Students at Clinkscale Elementary are learning the meaning of giving back. Members of the junior nurse club are collecting “prayer bears” to give to sick kids at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

Jessica Leverich, school nurse at Clinkscale and founder of the junior nurse club, got her start at Cook Children’s 13 years ago.

“I started off in the oncology department,” Leverich said. “It’s always been a big part of my life, and family is a big part of the oncology department. A student’s mom had been my supervisor at Cook’s and she was telling me how they always needed bears to give to kids who were in the hospital.”

Cook’s gives out an average of 200 to 300 bears per week, Leverich said.

“We have collected about 50 bears so far,“ Leverich said. “Kids come in daily with bags.”

Leverich, who maintains a nursing-related Twitter account, said donations have been coming in from people who saw her posting about the teddy bear drive online.

“We had a Fort Worth firefighter come in and donate a big bag,” Leverich said. “I thought that was neat because it was reaching people outside of the community. So that is a really big deal.”

However, Leverich said her main goal is for local kids to donate to the drive.

“The neat thing about it is the giving aspect,” Leverich said. “Even kids who don’t have a lot want to donate. There was a little boy who brought a stuffed animal that was well-loved, kissed it, and put it in the box. It was so sweet.”

Sadie Downs, a member of the junior nurse club, wants to be a nurse when she grows up. She’s also had first-hand experience receiving a bear.

“I had to stay overnight in the hospital because I was really sick,” Downs said. “I was given a bear. It made me feel better and more relaxed.”

Another member of the club, Payton Waldrop, either wants to be a biologist or a CareFlite nurse.

“I want to be able to help those people who live too far away from the hospital,” Waldrop said. “I like being a junior nurse because you get to learn all these things about saving peoples lives and doing CPR when you need to in that situation.”

Natalie Hale wants to be a school nurse like Leverich.

“I want to help sick children,” said Hale. “One of my favorite things to do is to help sick people.”

The teddy bear drive came full-circle when a Clinkscale student was admitted to Cook’s.

“One of our kids was admitted to the hospital and was given a bear,” Leverich said. “He just knew it came from our school and he was so excited to have received a bear.”

To donate to the prayer bear drive, drop new teddy bears at the Clickscale office, said Leverich, stressing the bears must be new.

“It needs to be a new bear, because we have to consider the populations,” said Leverich. “The babies in the NICU or the kids who have cancer may have a weakened immune system. They need something that hasn’t been exposed to ‘love,’ as I like to say.”

Hale said she hopes news of the junior nurse club and the prayer bear drive will spread.

“I want every school to do a junior nurse club,” Hale said. “That way, Cook’s has more bears to give to sick kids.”

Burleson Star

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