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Volunteering: ‘It’s just fun to watch a smile come on a person’s face’


April 10, 2022 Posted in: Stories of Giving  1 minute read time

Ann King, the volunteer coordinator at Flaget Memorial Hospital, recalls seeing a young boy crying in the surgery area. She knew he needed comfort, so she gave him a teddy bear.

“He just lit up,” said King, who’s been making the bears with other volunteers for nearly a decade. She calls them, “Buddy Bears,” because the gifted bear is the patient’s buddy to take with them. 

“I started it because I sewed a lot and I had made this little bear,” she said. “I was looking for something at the hospital for kids in surgery.”

The project has mushroomed from there. Volunteers provide the bears to the emergency room to provide some comfort for kids that come through the ER. Then she saw another natural fit: “I thought little bears would be good for the nursery,” King said.

Now the team of volunteers are providing 500-600 bears a year across Flaget. Every baby born at Flaget receives one of the volunteer-crafted bears in the nursery.

King, a former nurse at Flaget, wasn’t just thinking about the kids - she knew it could also benefit nurses.

Ann King

When she started, King was doing it all - the sewing and the stuffing. Then she found a committee of volunteers who could help with the stuffing and, later, another seamstress to help craft the bears.

“One reason I keep doing it is because it helps the little ones … it helps the nurses too,” she said.

Volunteering

King, 81, started volunteering at Flaget in 2005. “Once I retired, I had to have something to do and started volunteering,” she said.

“One reason I keep doing it is because it helps the little ones … it helps the nurses too,” she said.

Volunteering -- and the bears – are her way of giving back.

“It’s just fun to watch a smile come on a person’s face,” she said.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at CHI Saint Joseph Health and apply today.


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