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Winston-Salem woman gathers team of teddy bear builders to console children dealing with trauma

Piedmont Triad News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Every week a group of ladies who started as strangers gathers inside a meeting room at the South Fork Recreation Center in Winston-Salem to build cuddly bears.

Some people cut the fabric, some sew and others stuff.

“I can’t sew, but I can stuff bears,” said Mary Mahoney, a volunteer.

Pat Taylor started Project Buddy Bear after her adult son died.

“It was pretty tragic…I could’ve fallen in a deep hole and not come out, but I decided I had to do something,” Taylor said.

When the woman gather for two hours on Fridays, they sit at tables and use old, donate and new fabrics to make each bear.

“Mine first came from the attic fabrics or prints that I used to use almost 20 years ago,” said Elaine Byers, a volunteer.

“It’s a small group of people, but we’re pretty prolific,” Taylor said.

Since she started her grief project using her sewing and quilting skills in 2018, she and the team of volunteers has donated over 500 bears.

“Teddy bears are universal. Most of all of us had one as a kid. It’s one of the reasons I chose that instead of making quilts or something,” Taylor said.

Police and fire departments collect the bears to give to kids they need to make a connection with in the community.

Family services workers also provide the handmade bears to children dealing with trauma.

“When we’re making these bears, we really think about the scenario…they going to end up in, where are they going to help. We may never see them, but we know there’s a great purpose behind them,” Byers said.

It’s a labor of love to let the recipient know there is someone out there who cares about them.

“These bears hug back. You can pick one up. It hugs you. It just fits right in your arms,” Taylor said.

The Buddy Bear Project team meets every Friday at the South Fork Recreation Center on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

They are always looking for extra volunteers and fabric donations.

You can read more about the project on the group’s Facebook page.

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