No lions. No tigers. But lots and lots of bears, bears, bears.
With a mission of visiting and cheering patients, LaSertoma of Dayton Club members and students from Oakwood High School bring stuffed bears monthly to deliver to patients at the Hospice House on Wilmington Avenue in Dayton. LaSertoma member Pam Stephens can’t say how many bears have been delivered, but shares “LaSertoma started this project in the 1990s. We bring 40 bears with us 7 or 8 months out of the year.” That’s a lot of bears!
And a lot of smiles.
Delivery of the bears is a heartwarming experience for everyone involved. “We have had some patients – usually men – tell us they never had a teddy bear before, “ Pam says. “They hug on tightly when they get one.”
Oakwood students support the project and Stephens says patients really enjoy the interaction with students. “They are wonderful with the patients,” Stephens observes. “Many of them have had grandparents at hospice, so they have a special sense of the value in visiting and connecting.”
Each bear is presented along with a poem written by long-time LaSertoma member and hospice volunteer Helen Fornes:
To patients we give huggie bears
To help your day be brighter,
This warm and oh so loving pet
Will make your burdens light
Bears and Hugs bring joy to all
A loving touch to share
Hug-A-Bear Day at the Hospice of Dayton
Is our way to show we care,
LaSertoma receives some financial support from the students at St. Luke Elementary School in Beavercreek, who save lunch money to assist in the purchase of bears. Additional donations are accepted to help support the bear gift program. Please contact Pam Stephens by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.