Organizers collect nearly 1,000 'Claire Bears' in honor of teen killed in crash

Organizers collect nearly 1,000 "Claire Bears" in honor of teen killed in crash

GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) - Piling up by the hundreds, the final "Claire Bears" were collected in Ascension Parish on Wednesday in memory of Claire Carline.

It's all part of a grass roots effort to honor the 15-year-old, who was killed in a car crash while headed to school last week. That effort was helped along by Eagle 98.1 FM, which asked for bears at Harvest Supermarket in Geismar.

"We just wanted to be there for the family and do the right thing and we're honored to have this chosen as a pickup spot," said Ron Kelleher, owner of Harvest Supermarket.

The response was heartwarming.

"These are actually my son's first bears," said Courtney Hutchinson, who donated two bears. "He's eight months old, so he wanted to donate them to y'all."

The team collected more than a dozen Wednesday at Harvest Supermarket to fill the already crowded home of Vickie Hall. She said she's collected nearly 1,000 bears.

"After the accident, when I was praying, I asked God if there was anything I could do and this was pressed on me," Hall said.

Hall, who is a family friend, started the drive to honor the teen's nickname, "Claire Bear."

The original idea was to accept drop-offs at three parish schools, including Dutchtown High School, where Carline was a freshman, but that turned into something larger.

More schools and organizations joined in, including Eagle 98.1.

"I have a daughter," said Richard Condon of Eagle 98.1 FM. "I can only imagine going through the same tragic situation that the Carline family is going through now. We wanted to collect bears to ease the pain just a little bit for the Carline family."

With the final bears collected, Hall said the Carline family will now decide when and where they donate them to children in the Ascension Parish area. Hall added the bears may be distributed as soon as this weekend.

The "Claire Bears" are expected to go to non-profits, which will get the bears to children in need.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.