Spud Bears Ministries want to bring some joy to suffering children this Christmas. At this time of year, many children in Ballymena are looking forward to getting the latest games console or IPhone from Santa.
However, in countries such as China, Ecuador or Uganda, many little ones are left to play with old tyres, used coke cans, wood or dirty rags and have never had so much as a teddy to cuddle.
Spud Bears Ministries is a Christian run organization that is working hard to change this bleak situation.
This was set up by Mission Aviation Fellowship worker, Colin Davis, who said: “The name spud bears came from one little eight-year-old girl called Lanni. who was in a clinic in Mbesa Tanzania. When I told her I was from a place called Ireland, she said that she knew we ate a lot of potatoes there.”
He added: “I told her we called these spuds and so she decided to call the little bear I gave her Spud Bear. I was so sad to hear that Lanni died a short while after I returned home but I decided to name the ministry after her teddy bear. Spud Bear.”
Colin went on to explain that there are two key aspects to the Spud Bears Ministry: the first is to send out pre-loved donated teddies.
He said: “These will be given to EVERY child that is in the hospital or orphanage that we support. It was such an important part of Spud Bears to make sure that there is always a bear for every child and that the bear is given to the child to keep. This means having a surplus of teddies in each location, so that as soon as a new child arrives, or leaves for fostering they get a cuddly friend.”
‘Spud Bears’ also provides solar powered talking animatronic bears to a clinic or orphanage.
These are used to read bible stories and share God’s love along with preventive health care with the children who are not able to read and have no one to read to them. If one of these talking teddies was listened to by 15 children per day, he will have shared God’s love and health education with 5,475 children in one year.
Sharing a little about the impact of Spud Bears Ministry on the children who receive a teddy, Colin shared: “Most of the children who receive a bear have never even seen a real toy before, the only toys they have, have been made out of old tyres, wood, rags or coke tins, so when they first see a teddy they are amazed at how soft and cute it is but then when they find out that they get to choose a bear and keep it as their own it makes them so incredibly happy.”
“Medical staff have also shared with me that when a child receives a teddy whilst in the hospital it has such an effect on the child’s mental well-being in that they can cuddle the teddy talk to it and not feel so alone that it makes a marked improvement to the child’s rate of recovery”, continued Colin.
Colin states that churches in Ballymena have been incredible collectively having donated over 800 bears and financial support to go towards transport of the teddies along with provision for talking spud bears.
There are a number of ways in which you can get involved. You can request a pack and hold a Spud Bear picnic, coffee morning, quiz or breakfast event in your Church or school.
Or, you can supply a teddy or soft animal toy, which should in no more than A5 in size. Toys cost between £3 to £5 to ship, so maybe you would like to contribute to their ‘boarding passes’?
For more information on Spud Bears Ministries, log on to their website here or find them on Facebook here