Seniors use teddy bears to ease kids’ pain |

Seniors use teddy bears to ease kids’ pain

SUMMIT COUNTY – Giving teddy bears to scared little kids is the kind of project you’d expect a bunch of grandparents to promote, so it’s no surprise the Summit County Seniors are doing exactly that.

The program, called Hug-a-Bear, is in its seventh year and going strong. Donna Gregg is the most recent senior to be in charge of the program.

Community First National Bank has been involved from the start, donating $600 a year to purchase the toy bears; Wal-Mart has given the seniors discounts to purchase the bears. The seniors have picked up any expense over the $600.

About 400 bears are distributed annually to Summit County police and fire departments, the Sheriff’s Office, emergency crews and medical clinics to be given to children who have been in accidents or are otherwise traumatized.

The seniors are adding county social services to the list of bear recipients. If you know of any agency that could use a few bears, please call (970) 668-2940 and let the seniors know.

And, yes, the seniors get letters. The most recent was from the family of Mike and Beth Ryan of San Diego. They were vacationing at their newly purchased Breckenridge timeshare when their daughter, Kendra, 19 months, fell and gashed her forehead against a nightstand.

She required four stitches. Her dad wrote, “Administering stitches to a 19-month-old child requires the child to be restrained, a little traumatic. After the procedure, the nurse gave Kendra a teddy bear with the “Give a Kid a Hug!’ tag. That brought our little girl a huge smile, and she quickly forgot about the whole thing. She carries “Bo’ around with her, even sleeps with him.

“My wife and I both would like to say “Thank You,’ as you made a difference in not only our little girl’s life, but ours, too. You reminded us there still are nice people in this world.”

John Karras is a retired newspaper guy who just can’t let go.

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