GOULDSBORO – It's not every day that you see a group of red and purple-decked ladies drinking tea and collecting teddy bears, but that was the scene at the Eagle Lake clubhouse in Gouldsboro.

The Red Hat Society of Eagle Lake, also known as the Red Hattitudes, hosted the Teddy Bear Tea Party as a way to collect bears for children in need.

It was Red Hat member Roseanne Caso who organized the tea party and got in contact with the Office of Youth and Family Services (OYFS), formerly known as Children and Youth. The idea was to provide relief in the form of a small furry friend to children who have come from neglect or abuse situations.

A representative from the Lackawanna County OYFS, foster care case worker Heather Macarchick. She was on hand to both receive the bears and educate the Red Hats on what the agency does.

The agency is tasked with investigating reports of suspected abuse or neglect in Lackawanna County.

If neglect is substantiated, the agency can work with the family to get them to the right services, such as those for housing, therapy and drug and alcohol help. OYFS maintains that situation and monitors the family for improvement.

In the cases where improvement doesn't occur, then foster care is the next step.

The other side of the agency is all about helping foster children, which is what case workers like Macarchick are tasked with.

“When we go out to a home and determine the home is not able to sustain a child living in that home, either through abuse or neglect,”Macarchick explained to the attentive Red Hats. “I'm the one looking for the home.”

Foster care workers like Macarchick help children through services and keeping them registered for school.They are also the ones who see what these children have gone through, and try to find a way to make the transition into a new home better.

That transition can be especially difficult. Not only is the relocation difficult for emotional reasons, but many children leave their home with virtually nothing, sometimes just holding a store bag with a few articles of clothing in it.

That's where the teddy bears come in.

“A teddy bear symbolizes happiness and loving and a friend,” Macarchick said. “For us to be able to pass these along to our foster kiddos that are coming into care is really something special. So they'll have somebody with them at all times, to comfort them, keep them safe because it's a scary situation.”

Macarchick thanked the Red Hats for their generous donations, for both the agency and the children they will undoubtedly help with the gift of a bear.

The Eagle Lake Red Hats and the Daleville Red Hats came together for the special event, bringing a large assortment of teddy bears for children from beach themed ones to baby bears with blankets to a selection of Paddingtons.

The high tea included handmade delicacies from scones to cucumber sandwiches to Russian tea cookies.

It was a morning for sophistication, socializing, and doing right by local kids in need.

The Red Hats are already eagerly planning how they might help children in need at another function next year.

This event was easily a success.

Organizer Roseanne Caso was pleased at the turnout, pointing out that they had initially expected only thirty-eight attendees, and that blossomed to over sixty.

Suspected child abuse can be reported to ChildLine, the State Child Abuse Hotline at 800-932-0313 or the Lackawanna County OYFS at 570-963-6781.