Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why the Teddy Bear Project?

Trying on hats @ the nursing home when I was 7. 
Many people don't know the story behind the Teddy Bear Project. So I want to take a second to share it with everyone.

Growing up I use to visit the nursing home with my dad and our beloved dog Gracie. I was little so I don't remember to much. All I know is I really enjoyed visiting the folks especially Marget. She was one of the people who I became somewhat close too. After visit for a couple years the nursing home closed down.

So we stopped going for a while. Back in 2009 we started going again. Gracie had passed away and we had our puppy Stacey Mae. Stacey was just a little over 11 months old when she first visited. Stacey is a very mellow dog and really good with people.

The first people I had visited was Gene and Ruby. They were married for over 60 years. Gene was almost 100 years old. He talked softly but can remember a lot of things from his life. He would share stories about living in Colorado and pets he had in the past. He really enjoyed getting visits from Stacey Mae. She really helped brighten their day some.

Ruby "Rolling Ruby" Gene's wife. 
The first time I visited Gene he grabbed my hand and cuffed his other hand around it and looked into my eyes and said "Thank You". I never thought those two words would change my life.

When Gene passed away my heart was broken and I must say it still is. Everyone I visit I form some kind of bond with them. One thing I miss the most about Gene was the way his face lit up when ever he smiled.

One night I was thinking about what I wanted to do for the folks in the nursing home for the holidays. Many of the folks there are forgotten about and have no one to visit them. I wanted to do something that let them know there are still people out there who care about them. Even if they are strangers.

Ken and his bear Sr. Samuel. 
As I was thinking about this I thought of Gene and how he would hold my hand and look into my eyes and say "Thank You". He knew there were other people out there who cared about him. So I started the first Teddy Bear Project in Honor of Gene. We did our first collection for the folks in the nursing home and expanded it to the Children in the Hospital.

As of today I have collected over 2,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals for the kids in the Hospital and folks in the nursing home. It's all thanks to everyone for helping me and Gene for inspiring me. God Bless you Gene. I miss you very much.



  1. Maria,
    You are such an inspiration! Thank you for all that you and Stacey Mae do to bring happiness.

  2. Bless your heart Maria and Stacey Mae.

  3. Gene would be so proud to know that you've dedicated such a wonderful program to his memory! Thank you for all of the hard work and thoughtfulness that you put into every project!

  4. Maria and Stacey Mae, you have both found your calling in life. I hope you stay the course and see where it all takes you. Be guided by your heart.

  5. Stacey Mae, Want you to know I did not forget my promise to you. I will be sending you many Disney stuffed animals to add to those that you deliver for Christmas.

  6. Maria, you are a wonderful person! I wish there were more young people like you. You should be very PROUD of yourself, Stacey Mae, Gracie and Dad

  7. It is such a blessing seeing a young person with such a heart for the elderly and the sick. Bless you Maria and you too Stacey Mae. I am sure you bring much joy when you visit with those who are suffering or feeling lonely. You are such an inspiration. Makes me realy take a look at my life to see what it is I may be able to do to bring joy to people like you do.

  8. Maria and Stacey Mae~~Such a Loving, Caring mission that you have undertaken~It is an Inspiration to many, I know it is to me.

  9. I saw the award show and was so moved. I am now packing up a good portion of my teddy bear collection to send. Keep up the great work you do.