BOISE, Idaho — There's nothing quite like a soft, comforting teddy bear. That's especially true when you are a child and in the hospital.
For the past thirteen years, Evelyn Behncke has been sewing and stuffing teddy bears for the kids at St. Luke's Children's Hospital. She says that she's enjoyed every moment of crafting these huggable bears.
She is joined by a group of dedicated ladies, and they are all volunteers. A pediatric nurse came up with the idea years ago.
"She said they had nothing to hold because they can't bring in any toys from home, and so she thought they needed a new teddy bear. She talked with the volunteer office and they thought it was a very good idea," says Evelyn.
This group of volunteers is a lot like sisters. They spend hours every week marking, cutting the fabric and then stuffing the bears with stuffing, and a lot of love.
"It's such a joy. Working with your hands and you get to be a blessing," she said.
These ladies have made so many bears, they have it down to a science. They call it an assembly line. Everyone does their part.
"The ladies used to donate the fabric and the stuffing, but we went to the board of St Luke's and they have kindly helped us out financially," Evelyn said.
This Teddy Bear Brigade finished their 40,000th bear, something they are so proud of.
"We've had children come back and the parents bring them in and boy they love their Teddy Bears," she said. "One fellow was in his twenties and he still has his teddy bear."
The volunteers have so much love for little these bears and for each other.
"All of our ladies have a story, we have one that's 90 and two that are almost 90, they will be 90 in the spring, and still working hard," says Evelyn
These dedicated volunteers plan to keep sewing and stuffing for years to come.
"We just love doing them!" Evelyn said.
If you want to donate or volunteer for the St. Luke’s Boise Teddy Bear group, call 208-573-3666.