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December 7, 2016

Two years ago, the holidays were fast approaching, it was hard to visit any store with our daughter because just like most kids, she wanted more toys! While it was understandable for her to want them, it was hard to explain to her why she couldn’t have everything. Our daughter, Isabella had penchant for pony’s and anything shiny! When you’re four-years old, you believe each and every toy display has somehow been set-up just for you!

My wife Jill and I did our best to quell her concerns when she’d become convinced that if she didn’t have that purple pony she just might die right there in Target! It typically worked, but it was something we’d have to explain each time why visited a store.

After one of Isabella’s near-death-experiences in FAO Schwarz, we began to think about how we could change our child’s way of thinking. Could we turn the holidays into a time where Isabella would be encouraged to give rather than to receive?Would our four year old understand that she already has “Christmas” everyday- and that other children lived their lives very differently than her.

Children can understand what it’s like to be sick and they certainly understand what being scared is. So it was settled, Jill and I would use those relatable feelings to help our daughter understand the importance of giving. Each time we visited a store we encouraged her to choose any bear she’d like to give to one of the children she’d soon be visiting at the local children’s hospital. That bear would help brighten that child’s day. Maybe her gift would make that child feel less scared and afraid— and that would be because of her act of kindness. She took some time to warm up to the idea that once we arrived home, the bear had to hang out with other bears she’d collected until she delivered them to their new home. But before long our “bear box” turned into a “bear room”!

What started as a few teddy bears and a lesson in giving at just four-years old has turned into a full blown teddy bear drive with the encouragement and excitement of our daughter every step of the way. We’ve partnered with local businesses and expanded the efforts through out the Charlotte area over the last two years- this year Bella’s Bears hopes to collect more than 1000 bears!

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