A local charity and service group hopes that a small gesture from a teddy bear will bring smiles and hope to hospitalized children and others facing hardship in the region.
Officials from the Kiwanis Club of The Woodlands are ramping up their efforts for the program, the Brothers’s Love Bear Project, which was founded in 2012.
Tom Evans, president of The Woodlands Kiwanis Club, is credited with continuing the Brother’s Love Bear Project after his brother, Donald Evans, died of cancer in 2017. Donald was the founder of the program in 2012, doing it on a limited basis on his own. are dead.
“When my brother was well and had to go to the hospital (for treatments), he stopped and bought some teddy bears and gave them to children,” Tom said. “(Kiwanis) started (handing out bears) about a month after he (died). For two and a half years, we gave about 500 bears to Texas Children’s Hospital every quarter so they could give them to the kids. When I started, they let us join in. But that has not been possible since the pandemic.”
Denis Gagnon, a board member of The Woodlands Kiwanis Club, said that Tom Evans “followed in his brother’s footsteps”, and that he is sharing the legacy of bringing a smile to hospitalized children and others in the community facing various kinds of hardship. to make, wanted to continue.
“What happened when he died, we were told that Don had a passion for giving bears away, so then as a positive legacy Tom decided to continue in the same vein and follow in his brother’s footsteps,” Gagnon added. ready.
Tom said that when his brother was doing cancer treatments, he gave away one to two teddy bears a week, but since his death, the group has been donating hundreds of teddy bears every quarter through donations on their website.
How to help
The teddy bear giveaway has expanded since Donald Evans’ death in 2017, with a dozen local hospitals, charities and other medical institutions now participating in the program. Beneficiaries include Interfaith of The Woodlands, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital, and the Cypress Creek EMS service, which has bears in ambulances to comfort children involved in accidents.
To donate, interested people can visit the Kiwanis Club’s special website and donate any amount over $1 to give a bear to a child in need, Gagnon and Evans added. Most donations are in the $10 to $20 range, he added.
“What we’re doing now for Memorial Hermann Hospital, we have a partnership with them that we’re giving 50 bears a month to their pediatric services center,” explains Gagnon. “We’ll just give them the bears and they’ll give them to the kids. It costs the hospital nothing. That’s what we want. We don’t want to burden the hospitals. And for the club itself, we don’t want to take money from the club because our main goal is scholarships. We must be cost neutral. Getting corporate sponsorship is critical for us.”
There is no cost cap on teddy bear donations, and both Evans and Gagnon encouraged the community to cheer the spirits of children in local hospitals and people in other facilities such as Children’s Safe Harbor and the Montgomery County Women’s Center.
At this time, Texas Children’s Hospital has stopped accepting teddy bear donations due to the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns, but many other entities are still involved, Gagnon said.
“(People) can preferably contact Tom or myself, or make online donations. They can donate $10 or $20. Business donations can make a big donation to cover a one-time, large purchase (of teddy bears),” added Gagnon. “We would like to preserve that heritage for as long as possible. It has different meanings to us, it increases awareness from the Kiwanis organization. We have so much good feedback (on the program), it brings a big smile and joy and a sense of comfort to children.”