Finally finally I am able to report that the bears are on their way south and will be there and distributed in time for Christmas. I cannot think of a nicer present for all those who are still suffering the effects of the devastation in the region.
When this project started I intended to somehow get together 100 bears to ship out to those small children so overwhelmed by a situation they couldn't possibly understand just to make them see there was still good and caring in their world. I had no idea that, thanks to the efforts of friends and strangers who took up my cause, the response to the cry "send a bear" would be so totally AWESOME! Due to your efforts we have collected over 2200 teddy bears and consequently the logistics in shipping them south became a much more "interesting" affair! We have had to contend with the likes of FEMA requiring paperwork and the sheer size of the task (we loaded SIX SKIDS of teddys onto the truck as seen in the photo above). The bears were finally loaded on to a trailor on Wednesday of this week - this is a co-ordinated effort with Salvation Army and other organisations and was also loaded with childrens toys and school supplies from Erie and Titusville PA.
The trailor is now on route to Biloxi, Mississippi, to arrive and be distributed before Christmas. The news from there is that the needs of the children are as great as ever and three months after the disaster there are still children with nothing - so these efforts are going to be what make many childrens Christmas (also showing them that though the media has moved on to other stories they are not forgotten) so in the end the timing is perfect!
I would like to take this opprtunity to thank all the many wonderful people, friends and strangers, who have made the dream I had one day back in September turn into something truly amazing. Firstly my sister-in-law Linda (without whom I could not have achieved anything this big) for storing, sorting and not keeping all those bears she saw and fell in love with, Fred Harris in Oil City (who one day I hope to meet and thank for all his help) Engles Trucking who are moving the bears south, and the Salvation Army who as ever have assisted where needs are greatest and all the others who have made this possible who I never got to meet or thank.
But most of all the thanks is to all those friends and strangers who donated a bear without whom this couldn't have happened - without you each and every child who recieves a Teddy and Hope for Christmas would not have that new friend to Hug for a lifetime THANKYOU
(Hopefully we will have pictures in the weeks ahead of their arrival)