Magical eye gives hope: Donation of dolls goes to Jessie’s Place

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By Eryn Worthington

Lamby Lambpants understands how it feels to be hurt.

The sassy cartoon lamb had an awful encounter with the family dog, which resulted in his deformity — missing eyes.

Some might say Lamby lost the battle. But did he?

Wearing his blue-cuffed pants, Lamby’s owner discovered a plastic water bottle cap would conceal his missing eyes.

Through the blue bottle cap, magic and wondrous powers evolved in Lamby’s life, creating a heartwarming story of hope, love and courage for children of all ages.

Co-founders Byron and Tina Patterson established Love & Fleece LLC in Tarpon Springs in hopes of fueling positive inspirations for children in need.

“Our toys subliminally show kids that boldly accepting your imperfections can be liberating, that having a physical flaw can be like wearing a badge of courage,” Patterson said. “Lamby’s missing his eyes and he wears a goofy prosthetic, but his spirit’s whole and his confidence is strong. In fact, having a physical impairment is the very thing that makes his ego, as well as his heart, larger than life.”

Through original songs, drawings, poems, short stories and parodies, Patterson creates a message: “spread the happy, not the cranky.”

For every Lamby sold, the Pattersons donate an additional plush toy to a sick or needy child.

Forty-two Lamby Lambpants, the first character in their planned line of plush toys, were given to Jessie’s Place — a Citrus County child advocacy center in Beverly Hills.

“We wanted the kids to understand that just like this doll and his magical story that they don’t have to be perfect just like he isn’t perfect,” said Joanne Peters, CEO and founder of Courtroom Dogs for Kids Inc. “But he is special and loved like they are.”

She continued, “It’s really important for them to know to not believe everything they have been told since they were born," Peters said. "Everything is going to be OK and you are not a loser or this or that.”

Peters said Courtroom Dogs for Kids Inc. is an organization that has registered and trained therapy dogs that serve as calming companions to children who have been traumatized and who must testify to these circumstances. These dog companions visit Jessie’s Place and have noticed a difference in the children since they have received Lamby.

“Carol, a therapist at Jessie’s Place, tells me that they just love Lamby,” said Lorraine Clark, vice president of Courtroom Dogs for Kids Inc. “They just hold him and know that he is theirs and their protector. It’s a reminder to them that there are people out there that love them and will take care of them and keep them safe. That’s exactly what Lamby was created for. No matter what your deficit is there is always someone there that loves you. The lamb is like a shield and friend to them when they are not feeling good. They have the lamb to bring with them wherever they are.”

Peters feels that Lamby is a constant reminder and companion.

“I don’t care how old they are, I think they think that the unknown is scary,” Peters said. “When they have been taken out their home, no matter how bad it is — it’s the known. As bad as it might be, it’s a lot better than the unknown. They are trying to find their way through this unknown and they don’t know which way to go or what to do. They have Guardian ad Litems, therapists, Courtroom Dogs and all that, but at the end of the day they are by themselves. Now they are not — they have Lamby. We all need something to hang onto at points in our lives.”

Peters is encouraging citizens of Citrus County to purchase a Lamby toy and make a difference in a child’s life.

“Some how we have to figure out how to get people to buy one for Jessie’s Place so that he can give more Lamby’s to Jessie’s Place,” Peters said. “That’s two that will go to Jessie’s Place. There are 1,500 children in the system in Citrus County. If people want to do something that is very concrete and positive for kids here, they can buy one of these to be donated to Jessie’s Place.”

For more information on Lamby, visit www.loveandfleece.com.

Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington can be contacted at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or eworthington@chronicleonline.com.