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.