Gobbling up worries

Becky Vargo • Jan 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — A local girl who discovered a way to put some of her worries to rest wants to spread that sense of peace to other children dealing with abuse.

That’s why 7-year-old Brinna Reavis asked her stepmom to help her start a fundraising effort, so that more children seeking help at the Child Abuse Counsel (CAC) can have a Worry Eater.

"I want to do it to help other kids like me,” the Grand Haven Township girl said. “I'm lucky — I live with my dad. Other kids might live with a family they don't even know yet."

The subject came up after a recent counseling session.

Ashley Curtiss, who has been Brinna’s stepmother since the girl was 1½, said they were driving home from the counseling session when the young girl mentioned how lucky she is to have a counselor she loves.

“She also realized that a lot of the kids that go the CAC are children who have gone through and seen things similar to her and her situation,” Curtiss said. “We talked about what we could do to help those other children with the worry and anxiety that they each face and that they might not have the support system surrounding them like she does.”

Brinna’s aunt bought the child a Worry Eater last year, and “it helped her voice issues that she didn’t want to talk about,” Curtiss said.

A Worry Eater is a stuffed toy with a zippered mouth. You can write down your worries, unzip its mouth, place your worries inside and zip it closed for the Worry Eater to “eat” the children’s concerns.

Curtiss started a GoFundMe page for the project (www.gofundme.com/help-brinna-put-worries-to-rest). The fund was over $600 as of last week. 

Once it reached $300, Curtiss was contacted by the manufacturer of the Worry Eater with a suggestion that she could buy the toys in bulk. Curtiss noted that the company official is checking to see whether or not some matching funds could be made available to help with the purchases or shipping.

“Please extend our thanks to Brinna, for being so caring to think of others and taking action to do something about it, even while she is working through her own issues,” wrote Erin Gagne, sales and marketing coordinator for The Haywire Group, which makes the Worry Eater.

Brinna and her two brothers have been victims of abuse for their entire lives, Curtiss said. There is a no-contact order in place for their biological mother. Curtiss said the mother lost custody of the two oldest siblings three years ago.

“Throughout all of this, Brinna needed an outlet to voice her worries, anxieties and concerns,” Curtiss said.

“During an investigation, it is frowned upon to speak to the child about what’s going on in the investigation,” Curtiss said. “The Worry Eater was her source of comfort when she didn’t know if she would get thrown back into an abusive household.

“Throughout the process of her mother's rights being terminated, Brin started trauma therapy at the CAC of Muskegon,” Curtiss continued. “Her last visit they gave her Christmas gifts, and that sparked a conversation between Brinna and I on our way home.”

Brinna’s goal is to raise $1,500 to purchase the Worry Eaters.

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