Young pageant queen donates 67 stuffed animals to local Teddy ‘We Care’ Bears

Published 10:17 am Monday, July 18, 2016

A young local pageant queen is using her title to raise donations for a statewide cause.

Young Miss River City Brooklynn Marie Nicholson, 6, of Vicksburg, has been gathering donations of stuffed animals since March for law enforcement officers to give to children they are assisting.

The donations were raised through the Teddy “We Care” Bears organization that was started in February by Magnolia State Mrs. Clinton Sonia Rathburn.

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Nicholson presented 67 stuffed animals Friday to Sheriff Martin Pace and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

“We appreciate this donation, especially from this precious girl who went to so much time and effort to collect these donations herself,” Pace said.

All deputies keep one or two stuffed animals in their vehicle, he said, to help ease the pain of children who have been involved in an accident or whose parents may be involved in a bad situation.

“We receive bears from a variety of donors but never any as cute as Young Miss River City,” he said.

Nicholson set up boxes at different locations like schools and restaurants to gather the donations.

“Kids put them in a big box and when the box is full we bring them [to the sheriff’s office],” she said.

She said she wanted to collect bears for a specific reason.

“Because I want to help other children,” she said.

Rathburn, a former school teacher, mother and participant in civic activities, said the decision to start collecting bears happened when a family friend and police officer said his department was running low on the stuffed animals the officers give to children as a comforting tool in traumatic situations. She thought her position as a title holder could help in the quest to garner donations.

“[Officers] have to spend their own money to actually buy these bears so why not use my connections as a pageant queen to get my pageant sisters involved as well as my community,” Rathburn said.

More than 4,000 bears have been collected in 20 Mississippi counties since February, she said.

Her donations come from various pageants she is involved with and from locations in Clinton, Madison, the Delta and the Gulf coast.

“My donations come from everywhere. We just got bears from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia,” Rathburn said.

For more information, visit the Teddy “We Care” Bears Facebook, or email Rathburn at or Nicholson at