COLORADO SPRINGS — A simple toy like a teddy bear can provide comfort to a child in a stressful situation. A local church recognized that and is donating thousands of bears to those who need it most.
Rock Family Church and its church members in Colorado Springs raised money to buy 5,000 bears recently. The bears will be donated to local first responders including the police department, fire department and Sheriff's office. First responders will give the bears to kids they encounter, who may have been in a car accident or been a victim of a house fire.
Dean Hawk, the lead pastor for the church says, the idea was initially brought up four years ago, but it wasn't until recently that the idea came to fruition.
The bear's name is 'Hugs,' because "the tighter you hold him, the better he makes you feel," said Pastor Dean. "When a child grips that bear in the midst of pain, we just hope and pray that it brings some help, some care, and some healing to them, and makes them feel better as they're facing a difficult time. Our heart is also to equip first responders to create a good rapport with children in the community."
Sergeant Jason Newton, the Community Relations Sergeant with the Colorado Springs Police Department, says the department is thankful for the donations because officers encounter children every day who are in troubling situations. But a bear can help bring a smile their face.
"We don't get called to times of peace. We get called to the most difficult situations," said Sgt. Newton. "But it's (the bears are) going to provide us the ability to provide comfort to a child in need.
When you can spend a moment with a child, and have them hold that teddy bear, and you see that smile on their face, you hope everything is going to be okay, and you hope to give them that comfort. So it gives us comfort too."
Sgt. Newton said while giving away a bear may seem like a simple gesture, it means a lot to the child, and even the officer.
"Everyone sees all these tools that we have on our tool belt and all the tools we have in our car, but that teddy bear could be the most important tool we have that day," said Sgt. Newton. "Moments like this help bring us together as a community."
On Sunday, each church member held two bears and prayed, so that soon, the bears can provide comfort and love for children in need.
"As a church, we are passionate about out community and always looking for ways on how we can make a difference and have a positive impact," said Pastor Dean. "We're excited to see this vision come to fruition, and the impact this bear will have on a child."
Hugsthebear.com is also on the back of every bear. Children and families who receive one can share their story on the website.
Because of COVID-19, every bear will be disinfected and packaged separately.
For $5, you can sponsor a bear and donate to the cause. For more information on the effort, click here.
When funds come in, the church hopes to purchase an additional 5,000 bears.