Seniors’ bear hands comfort children

Several of the finished teddy bears await sweaters before heading to the arms of children in need.

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

In the craft room of the Tolles Parsons Center, the home of the Wellesley Council on Aging, the rhythmic whirring of Rosetta Solari’s sewing machine drowns out the sound of chattering voices. Hard at work, four seniors cut, stitch, and stuff the fabric of the community service teddy bears.

The group, which usually runs with the help of seven or eight seniors, creates handmade stuffed bears to donate to those in need – primarily children in crisis. Made from a soft, hypoallergenic fleece and finished with a hand-sewn face and a knitted sweater, the bears provide children in Framingham’s WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, at Camp Sunshine, and in Newton Wellesley Hospital’s pediatric care unit with comfort and love.

In previous years, the group has sent bears abroad to youths in need and to seniors in nursing homes. Some of the local police officers even keep a few bears in their cruisers to give to children on emergency calls.

“They go wherever there’s someone in need and for anyone who needs something to love,” said Helen Turner.

“Our bears need someone to love, too,” she added, cracking a smile.

Although no one seems to remember exactly how long “the bears group,” as they call it, has been in existence, some members, like Alice Ward, have been involved for 20 years.

While each bear requires a great deal of work, each member of the group specializes in a specific stage of creation, which helps the overall process go a bit smoother and quicker. The group has divided the work to have one person cutting and arranging the fabric, another sewing it, others sewing the faces, and more members stuffing the bears.

Much of the work is done at home, but the group meets at the Tolles Parsons Center every Wednesday in the fall, winter, and spring from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. to work together on the community service project. Though their production team seems to have perfected their methods, the group welcomes any newcomers who would like to be involved in the community service bears project.

“It’s nice to do something for someone else,” said Helen Karayiannis. “We’re not just staying at home; we get to get out and do something to help people.”

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