Volunteer creates homemade teddy bears for Sanford patients

Anytime someone is having trouble coping, ‘we go down and get a bear’

A Sanford Health volunteer sits in fluffy chair, crocheting a colorfully striped teddy bear.

A Sioux Falls, South Dakota, woman is using her creativity to bring comfort.

Esther Mason makes crocheted stuffed teddy bears and donates them to patients and families at Sanford Health.

“I can do any number of variations of whatever I want to do,” Mason told Sanford Health News. “I change up the colors and make something different.”

She has made dozens of bears to date, often starting and finishing one in a single day.

“I’m up by 7:30 in the morning and usually start between 8 and 8:30. I can get one of them done by 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night.”

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A former caregiver herself, Mason was a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home and assisted living facility.

“For 14-1/2 years prior to that, while my kids were in school, I was doing in-home day care,” she said. “I just went from one end of the spectrum to the other.”

Today, she has turned her skills into a small business, making and selling stuffed animals, doilies, embroidered dish towels and more.

“I also have a set of pillowcases I will be trying to do,” she added.

Every few months, she donates a handful of her special teddy bears.

A blessing to Sanford

Sanford Health Chaplain Mari Rogers will stop by to pick up three full bags of bears when they’re ready.

“I am a chaplain and I deal with people dying, lonely, depressed, sad,” Rogers told Sanford Health News. “Especially through this COVID time, it has just been heart-wrenching.

“I’ve walked up and down the halls and see lonely people crying, asking for help, comfort and peace … and at the beginning of the year, I saw these bears.”

The bears are full of vibrant color and made with love.

“I was in pediatrics. There was a child that passed away. Some siblings didn’t know what to do and the parents (were) there. Over and over, I said, ‘can I give you a bear?’ and they said ‘yes.’ I gave each of them a bear, and the parents. That’s where it started,” Rogers said. “Now, when we find children visiting having a hard time coping … we go down a get a bear.”

She said the bears bring comfort and hope to patients, families — and even staff.

“They will have tears and they will say ‘thank you’ beyond words. I think that’s what I’m so blessed by.”

Blessed by the ability to create, Mason is happy her bears are helping others heal.

“It doesn’t matter who you are — I care. That’s all I have to say is I care,” Mason said. “I don’t know these people that get the product, the end result of it. I just know that I’ve put a smile on somebody’s face. And that was worth it.”

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Posted In Community, Sioux Falls

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