From 1999 Teddies for Tragedies (TFT) have been knitting and delivering bears to children suffering disaster over the world. International Co-ordinator Gisele M. Toth explains, “The teddies are often the first toy the children receive, if not the only toy they will ever have in their lives.”
Leonie Ann Garlick
Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada-TFT has an estimate of 400 voluntary knitters per year; the organization has no plans to slow down in the future. Soon after the programme was put into action, the supply of bears increased dramatically to an average of 7-9,000 bears per year.
Toth says “It was astounding to see the generosity of people across Canada and the United States”. The organization, which was inspired in Africa in 1998 and recreated in Canada, also has volunteers from the UK and Australia who contribute to the making of the never ending supply of bears- distance is never an issue for this remarkable organization.
Teddies for Tragedies began collaborating with charity Samaritans Purse to form Operation Christmas Child in the year 2001. Samaritans Purse provides efficient shipping funds so the bears can travel from the volunteers to the suffering children in time for Christmas. The organization believes children are the first to be affected by disaster; the bears are an important part of the recovery process.
International (AKA ‘Nana bear`) Co-ordinator of TFT and her bear knitting brigade promise to continue knitting and giving bears to countries in need until disaster strikes elsewhere, the search for new recruits is now more intense than ever.
The organization is linked to yarn and pattern companies across North America; yarn suppliers and donations are also on the organization’s wish list. TFT says they value every volunteer who contributes to battling the process of seeing a traumatised child smile again. The future has never looked brighter.