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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Neighbors: Local woman gives to Sandy Hook kids

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Photo provided Mazel Braden, of Kennett, is giving back to the students of Newton, Conn., by donating several stuffed animals she won from bingo.
Eighty-one year old Mazel Braden, resident at Heritage Nursing Home in Kennett, has found a way to give back part of a childhood lost at Sandy Hook Elementary that fateful day in December. She is sending stuffed animals to the children that she has won at the daily Bingo games played at the center.

Braden has been a resident at the center since August of 2010 and began playing Bingo almost immediately. Braden's daughter, Teresa Branum, is the center's bookkeeper.

According to Branum, before the idea of sending the stuffed animals to the children of Sandy Hook, she was taking all the animals home and giving them to her grandsons.

"I finally just told her, Mother, they're grandsons," she said. Branum went on to explain that her son, at the time, was working at Family Counseling Center and one of his co-workers was the pastor of a church. Branum added that the church was always taking donations so her mother decided to donate all of the stuffed animals that she had won up to that time to the church.

That still didn't take care of all the animals that kept coming. Some were even given to Susan Hamrick's granddaughter. Hamrick is the assistant bookkeeper. But, again, that still didn't take care of all the animals.

"At Christmas time, we had two big trash bags full because you can only give your grandkids so many stuffed toys," Branum said. Hamrick then took the bags of animals to her church's Santa Claus breakfast where they were given out as gifts to the children.

"That got us through December,"Branum said. But, by Jan. 24, the box was full again. Hamrick then approached Braden with the idea of sending them to the children of Sandy Hook. She quickly agreed to the idea.

One of the reasons there are so many stuffed animals is because Braden is known as the "Bingo Queen" at the center. Branum and Hamrick added that there is not a day goes by that she doesn't win. According to Branum and Hamrick, if a day goes by and she doesn't get to play, she is disappointed.

Other activities she has been involved in at the center include Valentine's Queen, and being voted as the 2011 Nursing Home Queen, riding in the Delta Fair Parade that year.

Born in Happy Corner, Mo., close to Red Onion, Mo., she was raised in Cardwell, Mo., and graduated from high school there. She is a former employee at Emerson Electric having worked there around 15 years and a former waitress at Catfish Wharf having worked there for 10 years.

In closing, Hamrick offered these comments, "She's worked all her life and she's been a very giving person, especially, to young people." Branum added that her mother was always a really good mother, however, as the teenage years go, they weren't always on the same page but one thing she knew, was that she was loved.

For those wishing to make their own contribution to the children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, send donations to Messages of Condolence for Newtown, P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, Ct., 06470.

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