Bear hug brings love from Cardinia

Yvonne Ryan and Linda Harrington with their bears. 203566_02

By Mitchell Clarke

Two creative best friends have put their embroidery skills to the test, sewing up more than 150 CFA teddy bears for children affected by bushfire.

Maryknoll’s Yvonne Ryan and Pakenham’s Linda Harrington decided to do their part for bushfire relief, after stumbling across a similar initiative in New South Wales.

“We saw the design on one of our embroidery websites and people were making the teddies and sending it up to the RFS,” Linda said.

“We thought we wanted to do something like this, but for Victoria.”

The women received permission to use the design and immediately began working on bringing their Adopt a Bear initiative to life.

The bears are put up for adoption for $10, with funds being split between a Pakenham wildlife shelter and communities destroyed by the fires, while the physical bears are given to affected children.

“We originally planned to just do a couple and send them up to fire affected communities but it sort of snowballed from there,” Yvonne explained.

“We thought we’d make 20 for kids impacted by the fires but we had such a good response and have made approximately 150 of them,” Linda added.

The full time workers have dedicated every second of spare time to the cause, with each bear taking about one hour to complete from start to finish.

“We’ve definitely had a lot of late nights – it’s very time consuming,” Linda laughed.

“As soon as we get home from work, I quickly cook dinner for the family and then get started on the bears,” Yvonne said.

“We usually try and get four to six done at night and all our weekends have been spent busily making the teddies.

“Our poor machines need a break more than anything I think.”

But the sore hands is worth the joy that the bears have brought to communities – after Yvonne’s husband took 20 bears up to Buchan, the local school asked for another 20 so every student could receive one.

“This was more for the kids than the money raised, it’s just hoped we can put a smile on their face and if they’re traumatised they have something to cuddle at night,” Yvonne said.

After hearing of a family of six who lost their house, business and livelihood, the women have pledged to donate the remaining funds to assist in their road to recovery.

“We haven’t raised a lot of money when compared to other people, but we hope that this money can make a difference to some people’s life, whether it’s just buying some groceries or getting them on their feet.”


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