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February 13, 2009

The Mother Bear Project

This Extra Ink was written by Betsy C.

Do you remember your favorite childhood toy?

My teddy bear's name is Bobo. I got him for my first Christmas, and at the time I think he was bigger than I was. Bobo has born witness to countless sleepovers, tantrums and time-outs over the years; I slept with him every night (even though he took up more than half my pillow space) and hugged him for courage before my first date.

A little sappy, right? I know, but every kid has a special toy to love and comfort them in their times of need--or every kid should. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Thousands of children around the world don't have enough food, shelter or schooling, let alone a toy.

Happily, there are organizations in the world trying to remedy this. One such organization is the Mother Bear Project. In their own words, the Project is "dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children, primarily those affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of hand-knit and crocheted bears." Children in sixteen African countries as well as Haiti have received handmade bears from this project, but there are always more children who need friends--even knitted ones. You can help by making bears, or if your crafting skills are as yet undeveloped, you can sponsor a bear with a $10 donation, and a child in need will receive a handmade bear with your name on the tag. You can also donate needed items like stamps, or volunteer for the organization itself. Don't discount your ability to knit or crochet too quickly, though! You can find a simple pattern on the Mother Bear website, or you can visit knitty.com for step-by-step beginner instructions. Knitting is trendy right now, and what better reason to knit than to offer love and hope to a child in need?

If you want proof of how much joy a teddy bear can bring to a child, just think back to your own favorite plushie or security blanket. Your remembered affection will tell you all you need to know.

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