Teddy bears have a unique ability to bring comfort to troubled situations and soothe away apprehension. That’s why eight-year-old Lillian has made it her mission to rescue unwanted, no-longer-loved teddy bears and give them a second chance to bring joy into the life of a child.
Her grandmother, Marcie Freeman, said the idea was born in 2012 as she and Lillian were taking a walk. At the time, the little girl was only five years old. The sight of a raggedy old teddy bear sitting on top of a trash can waiting to be picked up pulled at Lillian’s heartstrings.
“Don’t they love him?”
The question was difficult to answer. Marcie’s granddaughter wondered why the teddy bear had been thrown away, and where he would go. Freeman tried to explain about landfills, and that’s where the garbage truck would take the teddy bear. When the owner walked outside, Lillian asked why the teddy bear was no longer wanted, and learned that the child who had treasured it had grown older. The lady gave her the teddy bear, and Rescuing Teddy was born.
Freeman runs Rescuing Teddy with the help of Lillian and two younger granddaughters, six-year-old Jaylyn and three-year-old Madalyn. They find teddy bears in need of a home at venues such as Goodwill. The original stuffing is removed, the bear is cleaned by professionals, and then the Freeman gals stuff him with fresh hypoallergenic fiber fill. Like the Cabbage Patch Kids, each teddy bear is given a unique name, adoption papers, and a lovely new outfit. The younger girls help with these steps. The stuffed animals are then sold or given away. The Rescuing Teddy Facebook page contains pictures of the re-energized stuffed animals, along with creative descriptions, messages, and information on bears available for adoption.
Marcie Freeman feels that this is her calling. It takes 15 years for a teddy bear to decompose in a landfill. She wants to keep as many teddy bears as possible out of trash bins and into loving arms.
“Every bear at some time was somebody’s secret-keeper. This is about changing the lives of those bears – and the life of a child. There’s an overwhelming sense of peace when you give a child a bear.”
That very first teddy bear rescued from atop a trash can remains a treasured companion to Lillian. This labor of love, born from the compassionate heart of a little girl, will surely bring joy to children, and a second generation of love for the teddy bear.
[Images via Rescuing Teddy Facebook page]