Tulsa Police Use Joy in the Cause To Comfort Child Victims

Wednesday, August 7th 2019, 7:44 pm
By: Amy Kauffman

With the recent mass shootings, many eyes are on Texas and Ohio as communities continue to come together and one Oklahoma group works tirelessly to make sure kids that witness a crisis are taken care of.

In the past three years Joy in the Cause has made nearly 15 thousand backpacks for kids in crisis situations, but they're not just for kids here in Tulsa, they take them wherever they're needed.

“I gave him the puppy and he was just holding the puppy the whole time as they were trying to assess his injuries and the whole time he was just holding the puppy saying 'puppy',” said Tulsa Police Sergeant Jennifer Murphy.

Murphy remembers the night she was called to a Tulsa hospital to take a backpack to a 4-year-old boy who was burned, malnourished, and physically abused.

She said his injuries also made it hard for him to speak, but as soon as he opened the backpack and saw the stuffed Mavis Pearl Dog, he smiled.

“When we have those backpacks and we are engaging them, often times that results in laughter and a smile, and makes it less scary for the child,” said Murphy.

Mavis is a therapy dog that travels along with the Founder of ‘Joy in the Cause’ Lisa Bain to deliver backpacks and care packages to those in need.

Every backpack has a handmade stuffed Mavis Pearl Dog, with an outfit carefully sewn by volunteers.

Tulsa Police have been working with Joy in the Cause for the past three years.

Joy in the Cause’s Backpack Project provides backpacks for first responders filled with anything from coloring books, to fidget spinners, to blankets and even new socks.

Officers said the backpacks help them build relationships and can even help them get information.

“You have something to talk about before you have to start asking them the more difficult questions," said Murphy.

Murphy said it also helps keep kids occupied while doing reports.

"If we do have to remove a child from a home, sometimes we have to be with them for several hours and sometimes it can be hard to keep kids engaged for that period of time, so to have the backpacks with the coloring books and the reading books, it really keeps them engaged,” said Murphy.

“Many of these kids are taught that first responders are bad or they're scary and this helps them be on more of a friendship level with the kids,” said Bain.

Whenever first responders are running low on backpacks, a group of volunteers comes together to make hundreds more.

Bain said they aren't just for kids in Tulsa, they will take them wherever kids are in need.

“It's hard to watch the kids that are victims unnecessarily and meaninglessly, and with something like this I’ve seen it make a difference,” said Bain.

Because during the scariest time of their lives, something as simple as a Mavis Pearl Dog can make all the difference.

“We're responding to those moments, those traumatic scenes and we're very thankful we have that resource and that tool to provide,” said Sargent Murphy.

If you would like to help Joy in the Cause you can do it through volunteering or donations, you can visit their website