In an effort to strengthen its leadership while providing a service, Old Chicago officials decided to have a team-building exercise with a twist.

Old Chicago General Manager Charles Frost Jr. had company leaders and support staff divided into three teams to compete in a teddy-bear-building exercise and then donated the bears to the local Children's Advocacy Alliance (CAA).

CAA brings together a team of specially-trained professionals who evaluate and investigate cases of child abuse and help children and their families through it.

“What y’all are doing today is extremely important to us because you’re helping to give hope to those kids,” CAA Development Coordinator Lei Smith said.

Twenty-two Old Chicago leaders met at the Conway location to build the bears after a brief demonstration.

Frost, who came up with the idea, said that each team had included a manager who was there for “support leadership.”

“They’re going to watch and coach,” Foster said.

After the teams were shown how to build the bears, they were given a few minutes to devise a plan of action. The winning team went with an assembly line strategy.

Dustin Hall, Brick Oven general manager, said he enjoyed the exercise and was glad to be part of the cause.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Knowing this is for kids makes it so much better. As long as you can make one kid smile, that’s what makes it worthwhile.’

Lacy Taylor, a CAA family advocate, said the children would be thrilled with the bears, which also came with a blanket and “birth certificate.”

"Support like this means the world to us and the kids we serve. Child victims have had their voices stolen from them. Our forensic interviews give them their voices back,” she said. “Advocacy gives these kids and their families support and a strong foundation to move forward with and connects them to resources that can be game-changers.

“Sexual assault nursing examination gives them the power of their body back. Trauma-focused therapy helps heal their thoughts and behaviors. When kids come to the Child Advocacy Center, they have better outcomes and brighter futures."

For more about CAA, visit http://hopeandjustice.org.