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14-year-old leads Rudy Bear effort

In times of distress everyone has an object of comfort. For children, it is often a stuffed animal. But, many times those who need them most don’t have them when they need them the most.

That’s where the Driver Ruritan Club steps in.

On Thursday, the club donated two boxes full of Rudy Bears to Suffolk Fire and Police departments.

“They’re like having another tool in our bags when we’re dealing with a child who has been sick or injured,” said Deputy Chief Brian Spicer.

Since 1988, the Ruritan Club has donated Rudy Bears to fire, rescue, police and children’s agencies to comfort children in times of illness or accidents.

Mackenzie Hallas, 14-years-old and the youngest Ruritan member, has been the champion of this year’s Rudy Bear efforts, according to her fellow members.

Hallas has been working on raising money to purchase the bears, which each cost $8.95, for the last year by putting money collected from events – such as raffles, Ruritan dinners, Driver Days and Driver Alive – toward the fund.

“She’s always out there buttonholing people to make donations,” said James Donnelly President of the Ruritans of Driver.

“The bears go to help children in need. I thought it would be really important for the children,” Hallas said.

Hallas, a 7th grader at John Yeates, is also part of Driver Junior Express and wants to start a Ruriteens club in Driver with her 15-year-old brother next year.

“Giving back to the community is good,” Hallas said. “I really like it, and it’s nice to see how happy it makes people.”