Plush With Purpose

Amy Elliott of White Salmon, Wash., (left), along with her mom, Caroline Elliott (center), drop off a box of stuffed animals to Vicky Valle (right), certified community health worker at One Community Health.

Amy Elliott of White Salmon, Wash., (left), along with her mom, Caroline Elliott (center), drop off a box of stuffed animals to Vicky Valle (right), certified community health worker at One Community Health.

Donations to One Community Health’s Perinatal Program Cheer Children, Support Patient Care.

HOOD RIVER, Ore., January 31, 2019 -- To many kids, a stuffed animal is a plaything. But for a number of children whose parents are patients at One Community Health (OCH), such plush toys come to mean more, whether they realize it or not. In fact, the small gifts have a purpose.

Over the years, people have donated beautifully handmade or like-new toys to the perinatal program. Most recently, Amy Elliott (pictured left, holding animals), an eighth grader from White Salmon, donated about 30 stuffed animals. It was time to clean out her closet and in doing so, she realized that donating the toys to a good cause made more sense than any other alternative—particularly just throwing them out.

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“Since we have a connection with One Community Health, it made sense,” Amy says. “Knowing someone else can use them feels good…and it’s much better than them collecting dust in my closet.”

According to Vicky Valle and Delfina Reyes (pictured far left, with patients), the two certified community health workers who co-manage the perinatal program, the toys come in handy during long appointments, such as in the case of diabetes education for some patients. One Community Health was thrilled to have the box of stuffed animals.

Also, as it turns out, Amy was delivered by one of OCH’s former providers, and her family has used its services over the years. They’ve chosen OCH for their dental care, plus the medical needs of several children they’ve fostered. Amy’s mom, Caroline Elliott, says their family has come to appreciate all that OCH does for its patients in the Gorge.


“We really applaud everything you do here and how you operate,” she says. “We just really support your mission.”

In being a “sibling” to foster children, Amy has learned the value of giving back to children experiencing hardship and disadvantages. Some of the kids receiving her toys at OCH may not have many—if any—toys of their own.

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Two perinatal program patients recently visited OCH and met with Vicky and Delfina. The children had the opportunity to dig into the box of stuffed animals and pick their favorite. The toy became a tool for distraction as the moms learned about caring for their babies and could better focus on the education provided through the perinatal program.

“Also, many young children are afraid to come to the health care center because they associate it with vaccinations,” Vicky says. “By giving them the toy to play with, they have a happy face, as well as something to entertain them while their parents learn how to care for their baby and themselves.”

These stuffed animals—they’re something so small, so simple and yet so powerful. The charitable gifts cheer up children, make it easier for the OCH perinatal program to provide vital patient education, and send the message that here, inside the health center walls, kids have nothing to fear. Truly, these stuffed animals are “plush” with purpose.

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About One Community Health
One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and, today, has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home. OCH currently provides services to more than 12,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing educational programs and support that reflect its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties.

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