Houston police officers spent this past weekend collecting stuffed animals to comfort children affected by violent crime. The stuffed toy drive was conceived in 2009 by then-13-year-old Julia Briggs, who wanted to ensure children of homicide victims, witnesses or suspects have something to hold and comfort them during what can be a traumatic time.
Shortly after proposing the project to her lacrosse coach, HPD Homicide Division Sergeant Brian Harris, Julia died from a rare form of cancer. Julia’s family, friends and teammates then took up her cause. Now in its third year, the “Remembering Julia” drive collected about 2,500 stuffed animals this weekend.
Sergeant Harris saw firsthand the impact of Julia’s dream on a 9-year-old girl, who witnessed the beating of her younger brother.
“She picked out this huge stuffed animal and held on to it during the interview. Her face lit up when she was told she could take it home,” Sergeant Harris said. “It was then I realized, this is what Julia was talking about.”
The collected stuffed toys will be distributed to various HPD divisions, as well as area organizations that assist children affected by violent crime.
Julia's parents and former teammates with HPD Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin (center) and HPD Sergeant Brian Harris (far right)