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FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-They are among society’s most vulnerable, hospitalized children facing sometimes life threatening illness. And at the other end of the age spectrum the elderly, often cloistered in nursing homes with few or no visitors to ease their loneliness. But even the loneliest and most frightened of these fragile citizens has a friend.

Okay these are ready for sorting,” says Donna Gordon. “That’s ready to sort and this one’s ready to sort.”

In Donna Gordon’s Fort Wayne home bags of compassion are being sorted.

As fast as we bring them in we’re sending them out as well,” says Donna.

Welcome to the Bear Den, the Disorderly Bear Den actually, a group of local women whose mission it is to bring comfort to the discomforted, young and old.

We’re just sorting to make sure they’re all clean, no tears or nothing’s damaged,” Donna explains.

The Disorderly Bear Den is part of the international ‘Good Bears of the World’, a group that collects stuffed animals and gives them to those who need comforting. On this day the disorderly bears are sorting through five thousand stuffed animals donated to the cause at a recent Komets game and sometimes you wonder who’s having more fun with these stuffed delights, the recipients, or the givers.

‘Oh, the kids are gonna love these,’” says a participant. “ ‘Look at these buck teeth!’ ‘A lion without a mane. It’s a female!’”

The sorted bears are distributed to hospitals, churches, schools, nursing homes, homeless shelters, too. And you can imagine what it means to those who embrace them.

I really don’t think how special it is to have a stuffed animal to kind of just be able to get you through anything that’s yours it’s kind of your buddy your little companion,” says den volunteer Cassandra Crickard. “It’s just like a friend that’ll never leave I guess.”

And it’s surprising to see just how much a stuffed companion can mean to the elderly as well, to have a soft and comforting friend that will never leave them. The need for what these good Samaritans do is great as is the compassion in the hearts of those who do it, easing the pain, alleviating the fear and anxiety in those who least deserve it. Bringing something to them they will hold in their hearts for a lifetime, however long that might be. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.



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