Cuddles donation

Johnstown police Capt. Chad Miller and Cuddles for Kids founder Conner Hagins sort through one of several boxes of toys that Cuddles donated to the city police on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.

Cuddles for Kids, a Johnstown-based charity, donated hundreds of bicycle helmets to four Cambria County police departments during a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Public Safety Building in downtown Johnstown.

Police in Johnstown, Richland Township, Ebensburg and Cambria Township

will hand out the helmets – 225 in total – to kids they see riding bikes without wearing helmets.

Cuddles for Kids founder Conner Hagins described a bike helmet as “something so small that will go a long way.”

“A lot of children are riding bikes around in our community, our neighborhoods, without helmets,” Hagins said. “It’s one of those things that not everyone thinks of, but it’s something that will help so many.”

The seed of Friday’s giveaway was planted, Johnstown police Capt. Miller said, when a young Johnstown boy was hit by a car while riding his bike.

Miller and city police Sgt. Erin Kabler later gave the boy a new helmet and bike to replace the ones destroyed in the accident – but when they delivered the gifts, they noticed that many of the children in the neighborhood were riding their bikes without helmets.

“I felt bad,” Miller said. “We were giving this kid a helmet, but we didn’t have helmets to give to these other kids.”

Remembering that Cuddles for Kids had donated stuffed animals and other children’s toys to the Johnstown police for similar giveaways, Miller reached out to Hagins to see if he’d be able to source some helmets.

“He was the first person I called,” Miller said.

Hagins and his charity came through, Miller said – they scraped together enough grant money to buy enough helmets for the city police and three other Cambria County police departments.

For his part, Hagins gives much of the credit to the Johnstown community.

“We had a lot of community help with shipping and things like that,” he said.

Also on Friday, Cuddles for Kids received a $3,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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