An Ohio charity is accepting donations for a seven-year-old Ohio boy who was found last week trying to sell his teddy bear for food, The Columbus Dispatch is reporting.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Franklin, Ohio police officer Steve Dunham responded last week to a call of a young boy hanging out in front of a CVS drug store in Franklin, a city of about 11,000 people in southwest Ohio. The caller had reported that the boy was trying to sell his teddy bear to get money for food.
“It broke my heart. He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.”
Hats off to Officer Steve Dunham, handling this heartbreaking situation. https://t.co/GRlHxEoTrf
— Hounds and Heroes (@houndsandheroes) August 13, 2016
Dunham took the young boy to a nearby Subway and got him something to eat, then took him back to the station to call Social Services. Dunham said that he and the boy quickly became fast friends, noting that they two played a game of hide-and-seek there at the station.
Dunham’s boss, Franklin police chief Russ Whitman, said Dunham’s actions represent the ideals of law enforcement going above and beyond the call of duty.
“Hopefully, these officers’ actions change these kids’ lives and maybe change the lives of the parents to become better parents.”
Authorities investigating the boy’s home found that the boy and his siblings had been living in squalor. The home was strewn with garbage, rotten food, and empty liquor bottles, and reeked of cat urine. The boy and his brothers, ages 11, 12, 15, and 17, were taken from the home and placed in the care of relatives.
His parents, Tammi and Michael Bethel, were arrested and charged with multiple counts of child endangerment, according to The Daily Mail.
In an angry rant posted on the Franklin, Ohio Police Department’s Facebook Page, Tammi Bethel struck back at the police for a situation that she says was blown out of proportion. She claims that the cops just happened to show up at the wrong time, and her house was usually kept clean. Further, she says that child protective services, where she already had an open case, and her 17-year-old son’s probation officer had been consistently making random visits and had never found the house unclean.
“BTW my kids didn’t even eat the food that the cops brought them because they had just ate. Another BTW I could throw a rock from my house and hit CVS where my son was at. He goes down there all the time with his brothers.”
She then threatened a lawsuit.
Photos published in the Hamilton Journal-News‘ coverage of the story paint a different picture of the condition of the home than what Ms. Bethel described. One photo shows a kitchen with surfaces in disarray, while another shows a refrigerator filled with apparently-rotting food and mysterious puddles of brown liquid. You can see the photos for yourself here.
Regardless of whose side of the story is correct, the children remain in the care of relatives while the case shakes out in the courts.
Meanwhile, a local charity is accepting donations for the boy found trying to sell his teddy bear and for his siblings. The Saint Vincent De Paul Society at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Franklin has volunteered to handle donations for the children.
In a statement, Whitman praised the actions of the charity.
“SVDP assists several families with food, clothing, and auto repair in and around the Franklin area. Without volunteers like these, families would be finding themselves in worse situations than this one.”
Tammi and Michael Bethel are scheduled to appear in court on September 16.
[Image via Ian MacLellan/ Shutterstock]