Student carries large bags full of stuffed animals
Senior and PsyClub President Jessica Brannam gathers large bags of stuffed animals to bring into the Edmondson-Telford Child Advocacy Center. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Students collect stuffed animals for local children

Dec 11, 2019
Kristen Bowman
Student inside a basement
Jessica Brannam inside the Edmondson-Telford Center’s storage space, where hundreds of stuffed animals were dropped off by Brannam and Brenau faculty.

The Brenau University undergraduate psychology club, PsyClub, recently collected more than 500 stuffed animals for The Edmondson-Telford Child Advocacy Center in Gainesville, Georgia.

Club President Jessica Brannam brought the new and gently used stuffed animals and a monetary donation raised by selling Halloween “Boo Bags” in October to the center on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Brannam, a senior psychology major, has worked as a victim advocate for the center for about two years. She assists children and families before, during and after forensic interviews, which are structured conversations to elicit necessary information about an experience a child may have witnessed or endured.

“We give stuffed animals to kids after every forensic interview,” Brannam said. “So every child that comes through here goes home with a stuffed animal. I know I have so many of my old ones at my house, so I was thinking that if we got the whole university involved, we could get everybody donating — every sorority house, every department.”

Three people stand by a sign for the Little House in Gainesville
From left: Senior Jessica Brannam, Psychology Department Chair Julie Battle, and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program Perry Daughtry

The club made the donation drive a competition, and the group or department that donated the most stuffed animals won gift cards. Unsurprisingly, the Psychology Department was the winner.

The Edmondson-Telford Child Advocacy Center’s mission is “to fight for a world without child abuse.” It serves families in Hall and Dawson counties affected by child predators with needs and services from discreet medical examinations, forensic interviews, community education, and coordination with law enforcement and much more.

As a victim advocate, Brannam works and plays with the children before their forensic interviews and stays with the parents and families during the interviews.

“It’s really a way to employ a lot of the things I’ve learned in school,” she said. “Getting to work directly with people is something I aspire to do, and this is a way for me to help, to be involved without directly being part of the interview. Being there for the families and the kids, it really feels like I’m doing something good. It’s been really important for me.”