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Plattsburgh women bring Christmas to foster children

Photo by Katherine Clark.

— One woman’s words and another woman’s collection of hundreds of stuffed animals led to the delivery of Christmas presents for fostered children across the country.

For Mechelle Mesec and her coworkers a book passed around the office, “Peter’s Lullaby,” a true story of a child growing up in Plattsburgh with an abusive mother, was a devastating story.

For Mesec the book was a catalyst that drove her to help, so she began collecting teddy bears in 2011.

“I started with a goal of 934 bears, because Peter lived 934 days—he was just a baby,” Mesec said. “We were able to send 1,166 bears (in 2011).”

For Christmas 2012, Mesec and others shipped 1092 bears.

Mesec said her campaign for teddy bears was inspired when a co-worker named Beth Bryer, who was attending SUNY Plattsburgh for child services, brought the book “Peter’s Lullaby” in. Mesec said the book quickly circulated around the office.

“When Beth told us about this program it broke our hearts,” Mesec said. “I started thinking about all the bears I had collected over the years and how much better they would be with a kid than in my attic.”

“Peter’s Lullaby” was written by Jeanie Fowler about her painful childhood.

Jeanie’s mother, an alcoholic, beat Jeanie and her brother Peter.

After being taken from their mother, Jeanie and her brother were put into loving foster homes, but their mother later got them back and brought them to Chicago where Jeanier lived for an entire year, tied up in a closet with a bucket.

Jeanie’s brother Peter lived in the bathroom, tied to a heater until his mother beat him to death with a wooden ironing board.

Mesec said in the book, Jeanie wrote how her brother Peter’s humming at night brought her comfort that he was still alive and gave her the strength to go on another day.

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