Love 'n' Hugs Bear Ministry At Grants Pass Adventist School

August 01, 2007 | Travis O'Reilly

For the past four years at Grants Pass Adventist School a Valentine's Day tradition has provided a great opportunity to share God's love with others in their community. The students have been giving stuffed teddy bears to two retirement homes located next to their school. Edith Kramer, a main contributor who works at the Adventist Community Service Center, gathers the donated bears to give to the school. School faculty, teachers, students, and their parents also donate bears. Sheryl Shewmake, the kindergarten teacher and program coordinator, along with her mother Loweta Medford, help by cleaning them, buttoning and sewing them back up, and making them look like new.

After the bears are prepared, the student body is divided into six multi-grade teams. These groups then tie tags on the bears with yarn. The tags read "Love 'n' Hugs from the students at Grants Pass Adventist School." Each bear is hand-delivered to the residents. "We made a lot of them smile, which made us happy," said first-grader Gage Flaming. The Love 'n' Hugs Bear Ministry has delivered more than 880 animals.

Joanne Laker, Royal Gardens activities director, commented, "The residents love to show the bears off. It has a very positive effect on all of them." Patty Brown, a visitor at Highland House, wrote a thank-you note to the school. Regarding one of the students, she wrote, "her face showed such joy and pleasure at giving this gift," and referring to the residents, she wrote, "Some of the ladies were still talking about their teddy bears the next day."

Students also look forward to giving away the bears each year. Kayla Milstead, a second-grader who got to give away four bears, said, "I like to see their smiles when you hand them a bear."