Ahern: Teddy bear giveaway boosts Beverly children
By Patti Ahern Citizen Journalistemail@example.com February 21, 2013 1:54PM
Chris, a student from Beacon Therapeutic School, 10650 S. Longwood, gives a Valentine teddy bear to Smith Senior Living resident Mary Jane Krull as resident Albert McElroy watches. | Supplied photo
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:07AM
There are school lessons about reading, writing and arithmetic, and then there are life lessons about caring, giving and thoughtfulness.
These life lessons, lessons of the heart, were on the agenda this month when about 20 students from Beacon Therapeutic School visited Smith Senior Living, 2320 W. 113th Place, in Chicago’s Beverly community, to share teddy bears with the residents for Valentine’s Day.
The students, ranging in age from six to 12 years old, visited Smith Senior Living to sing songs to the residents and distribute home-made Valentine’s Day cards and refrigerator magnets, as well as teddy bears.
The bears were provided by Bear Givers, a non-profit organization based in New York that provides teddy bears to those in need, hoping to empower bear givers simply by the act of helping others.
Diane Lampert, president of Bear Givers, said the organization was started by Joseph Sprung, a New York businessman who originally intended to give bears to hospitalized children and their families. Lampert said Sprung soon realized that giving away bears could empower children.
“Giving a bear made us feel great, but we realized we would like to have other people experience that feeling,” she said. “Recipients don’t often get to be on the giving end of things.
“We are in New York, and we wanted to expand our reach,” Lampert said. “We went to the West Coast, and then we thought, ‘what about Chicago?’ I went to Google and looked at a list of schools that have special needs, and Beacon showed up.
“I met with Peggy Rourke (the director of development at Beacon School), and she completely understood how good it is to give,” Lampert said. “They embraced the program, and I knew they would carry on and spread all the happiness. They were so responsive.
“Peggy has been wonderful, and she integrated this into their school community, and they do this with so much empathy that it is wonderful.”
Rourke was equally enthusiastic about the Bear Givers program.
“This event does so much for so many people,” she said. “The kids just loved it and were excited. I think this is a wonderful partnership between Beacon Therapeutic and the Bear Givers, and it definitely empowers our kids to feel good about giving.
“The children at Beacon want to help others, and it is empowering for them to realize that they can do so. They don’t always have to be on the receiving end of things,” Rourke said.