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Volunteers needed for Hug-A-Bears

Posted: 8:35 AM, Aug 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-17 13:35:28Z

More than 40,000 handmade stuffed bears have been donated to numerous charities around the area since 2000 and it is all because of some faithful volunteers. 

Hug-A-Bears are given to children to love on when they are in distress.  They are delivered to area hospitals and fire stations.  They are also given to patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Each bear is cut from a template, sewn together and stuffed with donated material from 3M.  All of this is done by volunteers. 

"We started at the plant doing it and then moved out here when we didn't have a place to go," said volunteer Joe Bonaiuto. 

Hug-A-Bears started decades ago as a community service project in the basement of Western Electric.  Now retired, many of the former employees have followed the volunteer operation to a donated space at Maple Ridge Retirement Community.  But it is not all work.  

"We tell a lot of jokes," said one volunteer. 

"It is just like pleasure, we look forward to coming," said volunteer Joanie Siwa. 

Even with lots of laughter and the occasional snack break, this group is efficient.  They have made more 43,000 bears. 

This ever growing project needs more volunteers. 

"I just wish every seat here was taken and one day they may be," said President Steve Dawkins. 

Dawkins invites you to come on down, you'll be hooked on Hug-A-Bears just like him.

"I am going to retire when that number is 80,000 bears.  You know what 80,000 is, that is a long way from now.  That is how much I want to do it," said Dawkins. 

The group meets every Tuesday from 9am-1pm.  If you would like to volunteer call Steve Dawkins at 402-740-2475.  The non-profit is always in need of donations to keep the operation up and running.