by Denise Gary
Photographs © Denise Gary

Peace begins with a smile. –Mother Teresa

Elephants are magnificent creatures—intelligent, nurturing, protective, compassionate, and possessing the capacity to grieve, they are a natural symbol of love, healing, and friendship.

I would like to tell you about Cee Cee Creech, a ten-year-old young lady who has been knitting elephants to help others for two years. She began knitting elephants for kids whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri. She went to the town to give the toys to the children, so they would have something—a friend—to call their own. Thus was born Elephants Remember Joplin.

Since then, Cee Cee has conducted numerous other charitable projects, including helping our organization with the Kids-N-Peace anti-bullying literacy program. Kids Need to Read periodically receives shipments of the knitted elephants and various other critters from Cee Cee, mom BeLinda, and other knitters who volunteer support to Elephants Remember Joplin’s projects.

We are currently providing the Kids-N-Peace program to the students of Children First Academy in Tempe, Arizona, a school for homeless and impoverished children. When we approached school counselor Todd Kemmerer about using the animals to help victims of bullying as part of the project, he expressed great enthusiasm.

The knitted creatures have proven to be so desirable, “Mr. K” often has to ask Kids Need to Read for more:

I was wondering if you would be able to get anymore of the knit animals for me. I am almost out and the kids have really responded to them when I use them for an interventions and coping strategies. I have even used a few of them for behavior contracts that the students work hard to get. They are very popular!!

Elephants Remember Joplin critters await children on Mr. K’s shelf.

The knitted toys have become an integral part of the Kids-N-Peace program, befriending bullied children and encouraging students to learn nonviolent coping mechanisms.

We are so grateful to BeLinda Creech, the Elephants Remember Joplin knitters, and especially Cee Cee, the compassionate young dynamo who believes with all her soul that no child should ever be bullied, and that all children deserve love, comfort, and friendship. She has the heart of an elephant!

Photo Gallery: Elephants Remember Kids-N-Peace
Information: Kids-N-Peace Program

The Kids-N-Peace program is designed to support literacy education, as well as help students cope with bullying, learn peaceful conflict resolution techniques, and develop effective leadership skills. The Peace Packs Book Collection is the backbone of Kids-N-Peace, which also features related activities and live presentations to fulfill the goals of the program. According to, approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying, and one out of ten students ultimately drops out due to repeated bullying. The issues of bullying, school violence, and lack of peaceful leadership skills are pervasive menaces to children and experience has taught that self-empowerment through education is the key to breaking the cycle of violence.

Kids-N-Peace Funding Partners

East Quogue Elementary School Students
Elephants Remember
Employees Community Fund of Boeing Arizona
Fry’s Fund
John F. Long Foundation
Mesa Host Lions Club
Sundt Foundation
Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund


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