Pictured is Orchard Hospital ER Nurse Supervisor Christi Smoke and Pastor Karl Coulter of the Gridley United Methodist Church with a Cuddles for Kids bear.

Over three years ago the social worker for Orchard Hospital contacted us about a service project. We could not do the one they called about but we wanted to help the hospital. One of our members, Rose Conklin, came up with the idea of giving bears to children that come into the emergency room. Our church liked the idea and so did the hospital so Cuddles for Kids was born.

At first, we gave gently used bears that we got from friends and family, or even yard sales. However, we ran out of those and decided it would be better to buy new ones. So today we bring new bears to the hospital. We usually bring bears about once a month. Over the years that has added up to between at least 1000-1200 bears.

The nurses have told us how much they like the program as it helps calm the child down when they have a bear to comfort them. We have also been told sometimes they demonstrate a procedure on the bear to show the child what to expect.

I was a patient of the ER not too long ago and got to see a bear in action. A little boy was also in the ER with an injury and I saw him just hugging a bear given to him for all he was worth. Seeing that boy with his bear makes our ministry worth it, providing comfort to a child.

We plan on continuing this ministry for a long time.