Hug-a-Bears – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

From Legacy West Pioneers – Chapter 66 - SACC

Boy hugging a bearTeddy bears are synonymous with childhood. For many kids, they are soft, cuddly friends to play and sleep with – or simply shower with hugs and kisses. But to other children who have suffered a traumatic event or injury, a teddy bear can be a lifeline of emotional support.

Over the past 35 years, the Southern Arizona Combined Club (SACC) has spent countless hours crafting Hug-A-Bears for donation to children who desperately need a bit of love. The club makes and distributes over 150 bears each month thanks to many dedicated volunteers who sew and stuff these beautiful and cherished friends.

Recently, the chapter received an update on one of the bears and his new best friend, Harrison. They were thrilled to get this beautiful message from Harrison’s family about how the boy and his cuddly friend met.

“Just a note to say “thank you”! My son had a heart transplant in November 2021 so he’s no stranger to medical care. Tonight was his first ambulance ride and he was gifted one of your handmade teddy bears to hold during the ride. He’s now snuggled up and sleeping with it in his hospital bed.” – Beth (Mom)

SACC chapter president, Barbara Palmer, reached out in inquire about how Harrison was doing and to find out more about this touching story.

“Thankfully he is doing well. He received a heart transplant a year ago and overall has managed to stay healthy. He was hospitalized for something that most kids could overcome easily but he needed some medical care because of his compromised immune system. We are from Phoenix, Arizona. He got the bear from an ambulance drive on our ride from Tucson (where we had been visiting) back to our home hospital in Phoenix. We were discharged yesterday and we double checked to make sure his new friend made it home with us. I love to volunteer and am also fulfilled by it but it’s even better when you can actually hear about a person you’ve touched. Thank you again!” – Beth and Harrison

Over the last 30 years, the Hug-A-Bear program has been an important cornerstone of the Pioneers Volunteer Network. Just about every chapter across the country dedicates resources to crafting teddy bears for children who are facing some sort of trauma, such as a medical emergency, domestic violence, house fire or hospitalization. After the Hug-A-Bears are sewn and stuffed to strict standards, Pioneers then distribute the bears to emergency responders, women’s shelters, and hospitals to have on hand when needed.

Finally, these fluffy bears are welcomed into the arms of young children to help provide calm and comfort during an emotional storm. Over the years, many emergency responders have shared how, by simply snuggling with the bears, scared kids are better able to communicate with them in critical situations. In many cases, the bears remain a source of emotional support long after the traumatic event has passed.

And Harrison’s mom Beth put it beautifully – volunteering is even better when you actually hear about how your time and dedication impacted individuals and made a difference in their lives.