Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol is collecting small stuffed animals for law eforcement officers to give out to children they encounter while on duty.

Mounted patrol deputies, with other local law officers, will volunteer their time to collect stuffed toys at the upcoming high school football game between Alma and Morrilton set for Oct. 6 in Alma, said Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown.

Deputies will be manning large blue barrels featuring sheriff’s department logos at both the home and visitor entrances to the football field, Brown said. Everyone planning to attend the game is being asked to donate, he said.

“We’d just like them to donate a small stuffed animal for a worthy program,” Brown said.

Donated toys should be in the original packaging or a gallon-sized reclosable plastic bag, Brown said.

“We prefer a small stuffed animal - about the size of the palm of your hand - but we’ll take anything,” Brown said.

Any stuffed toys collected by the sheriff’s department will go to deputies and local police departments to be distributed among patrol officers, Brown said.

The idea to collect the toys came from the mounted patrol deputies, who have plans to put together kits that can be given out to young children in distress, Brown said.

“When a deputy or officer comes on a scene in which they come into contact with young children, they can hand out the toy or kit to comfort the child, or whatever is needed,” Brown said.

Other groups such as local churches have collected items in the past to be given out by deputies and officers, but this is the first time the CCSD has done such a collection, Brown said.

“They’ve put those kits together and given them to us, and it’s been very successful,” Brown said. “We’d just like to continue that.”

Brown hopes to continue the program with a yearly toy collection, he said.

Anyone not attending the football game who would still like to donate a toy can drop the item off at the CCSD at 4235 Alma Highway in Van Buren. A collection barrel will be set up in the lobby after the Alma-Morrilton game, Brown said.