Teddy Bear and Friends started as a family tradition with my two daughters, and later my six grandchildren. In November of 2007, I was at Goodwill picking out a stuffed animal for my grandies for Christmas. I was thinking that it was too bad that you had to buy a used stuffed animal and wondered if people would donate gently loved stuffed animals for me to give away.
We picked the name, “Project Teddy Bear” and started accepting teddy bears. Several people asked if it was just teddy bears or could it be any kind of stuffed animal. That is when the “& Friend's was added to the name. I received 225 that first year and all found a new home for Christmas.
I have a donation box on my front porch so if I am not home folks can leave donations in the box. Once the stuffed animal donations are received, they are washed and prayer tags added. They are redistributed locally, throughout Ohio and other states, with most going out for Christmas.
My hubby, kids and grandies are great helpers. Occasionally I have Bear Parties and people come to help put prayer tags on the stuffed animals. The last Bear Party was a couple of weeks ago and three men from CRSI came and helped out. These are so much fun and it certainly helps get the animals ready quicker.
I couldn't do this without all the great people who donate. I have had family bring me donations when visiting from out of state, a cousin ordered some and mailed new stuffed animals to me last December. I get them from my family and church family, too. We have groups get together and bring car loads at a time, and our largest donation last year was 333 from New Madison, Ohio. A friend and I delivered over 600 to a church group giving them away to kids hit by the flood in Kentucky in June last year.
We have several church groups and a motorcycle group who give items to kids at Christmas time and are on my list to receive stuffed animals every year. This year Mr and Mrs Clause from Lakeview were added to my list. A couple of ladies get the extra small stuffed animals for the Samaritan Purse Christmas boxes. The Teddy Bear lady passes out beanie babies on Trick or Treat night every year in Urbana. She has quite a following and usually has some kind of theme like Mrs Noah and the Ark full of stuffed animals.
It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I see the kids reaction to getting a stuffed animal, seeing pictures or hear stories. I had the privilege of giving the 20,000th donation, a big fuzzy duck, to a boy in Kentucky last December. I explained why it was a very special duck and his eyes got big and he said, “Oh!” It was a special moment and dear to my heart.
In 2016 our big goal was to reach the 20,000 donation mark. Not only did we reach it but surpassed it by 1,204!
We have several challenges for 2017.
- To beat the largest group donation of 745 set in 2010.
- To beat the largest individual donation of 271 set in 2009.
- To beat the highest yearly record of 4,348 set in 2011.
- To raise funds ($4,000) for the Teddy Bear Den Storage Building needed for sorting and storing of donations
If you would like to help Project Teddy Bear & Friends Non-Profit please go to www.JoyFay.com and click on the stuffed animal page and purchase a stuffed animal to donate. The coupon code is: Teddybearandfriends. This coupon code can be used on any items being shipped to Reverand Tami for her charity! The coupon is entered during the final checkout and payment process.
Donations can be sent to:
The Teddy Bear Lady
Rev. Tami Wenger
8908 US HWY 68 N.
West Liberty, Ohio 43357
Thanks for helping Project Teddy Bear & Friends - Change the world, one hug at a time!
Rev. Tami Wenger
Project Teddy Bear & Friends