"What is it with all the stupid teddy bears?"
Yes, that was my question the first day I went into our corporate office. Even after reviewing our historical pictorials, I just didn't see why a nonprofit would spend so much time collecting and giving away teddy bears. Boy was I in for a surprise.
I laugh today, because I know it's a question people often have when they meet me at the office. I can't explain it to them, but some things you just have to experience to understand.
When we go to various senior homes and assisted living facilities, you would be surprised at how many people light up when we encourage them and leave a teddy bear. For instance, Miss Mary at the Towers in Newport News (see above right), who turns 100 this month, considers these teddy bears her children. You can imagine the comfort these bears bring her since she has outlived all her family and hardly anyone visits her. I am grateful for the staff at The Towers that do a wonderful job of looking after Miss Mary and attending to her needs with love and care.
Actually, Miss Mary’s story is common. So many people in assisted living facilities and nursing homes rarely see their family and friends. Can you imagine their lonely days, filled with reflections of yesteryears versus their present confinement? The holidays add pain and feelings of loneliness. So, although it may seem unnecessary or insignificant, such a small gift makes all the difference in the world for some.
I will never be able to explain what I felt when I visited my first resident and left a teddy bear. If you could have seen the reaction of tears and thankfulness. I remember seeing them again when I finished making the rounds and witnessing a few that held the plush animals as if they were the only things that loved and cared about them. My fear for some is that the animals are.
I am so grateful for our founder who knows that despite any of the programs or signature services we offer, it is always the little things that make the difference. After 25 years of ministry, she shares that “people in need don’t want a handout, they simply want a hand”.
So if by chance you visit our corporate office or see a social media pic from the office, now you know why you see the bags of teddy bears in the background. The “stupid bears” are actually not stupid at all. They are sort of magical, especially to the recipients, so we make room for them to stay.
--Alesha Brown, Vice President of Crusading Outreach Ministry Inc. 501 c 3
Empowerment Coach, Motivational Speaker and Best Selling Author
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