Calming tears and fears with teddy bears

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Little things can mean a lot. For example, something as ordinary as a small stuffed animal can make a big difference in the life of a child in pain.

The local Teddy Bear Ministry has proven that.

The project, the brainchild of Rev. Fred Lindstrom of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, has distributed more than 200 small, cuddly teddy bears to area children in special need of comforting.

&uot;This all grew out of a desire to reach out to children in crisis. I helped get a teddy bear ministry started in several other places we have served, and I have found it’s always been very effective,&uot; says Rev. Lindstrom.

According to the minister, the little furry bears seem to have an almost magical effect on children caught up in frightening situations such as traffic accidents, fires and domestic violence incidents.

&uot;Kids truly seem to be calmed and comforted by having these little bears to hold on to. We got the ministry started here about two years ago, and people were very responsive to donating to this cause,&uot; says Rev. Lindstrom.

The bears are distributed through both the Greenville Police Department and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

&uot;We really appreciate Father Fred bringing this idea to us here in Butler County. You know, when a child has been in a car accident, they are very traumatized, shook up. It’s rough. When an officer can give them a teddy bear to cuddle, it’s a real comfort to them during a tough time,&uot; explains Greenville Chief of Police, Lonzo Ingram.

&uot;This has been a good thing for these children, and we really appreciate all the help we have been given through local churches and other groups. The community has supported the effort really well,&uot; Ingram adds.

However, the ministry that helps hurting children is now in need of further help from the community.

The number of bears to give away is quickly dwindling, and the supply needs to be replenished.

There are, however, specific guidelines that need to be met when choosing and donating one of these beasr.

&uot;First of all, teddy bears are specifically requested – no giraffes, lions or other animals. Secondly, the bears should be compact in size – no more than about seven or eight inches tall. Remember, there is limited space in the squad cars so the teddy bears need to be small,&uot; Rev. Lindstrom says.

Rev. Lindstrom says it is also preferable for each bear to be wrapped in plastic or some other type of protective material – &uot;after all, we want to keep them clean for the kids.&uot;

For those who would like to donate to the Teddy Bear Ministry, bears can be dropped off at the Greenville Police Department at City Hall; at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church or at the Butler County Sheriffs’s Office.

&uot;We appreciate everyone’s support in this ministry; it is truly a blessing to this children in a time of great need,&uot; Lindstrom says.