With stuffing flying and smiles all around, 50 seniors from the Scott Valley Senior Center and 50 kids with Felton 4-H joined together to make 50 stuffed bears for children in need in Santa Cruz County.
The project, called “Friends for Love,” was the idea of 14-year-old Katelyn Praly, who says it has been a dream of hers for a while to help children less fortunate than her.
“I wanted to do something with children in need because I’ve seen there are so many bad things out there,” Katelyn said.
So with the idea for the project in mind, Katelyn applied for and received a $1,000 4-H Revolution of Responsibility grant to make her dream a reality.
“I applied and we crossed our fingers and hoped and hoped and hoped,” Katelyn said. “They called back a couple of weeks later and said I got it, and my Mom and I were jumping up and down screaming with happiness.”
With the money, Katelyn was able to purchase enough materials from Noah Bears to build 50 bears. The grant called for community outreach along with the project though, so Katelyn said she immediately thought it would be fun to bring her 4-H peers together with local seniors to do the project jointly.
“They approached us about it and it was not something I was going to say no to,” said Darshana Croskrey, director of the Scotts Valley Senior Center. “One of my goals coming into this job had been to do some inter-generational activities, so it fit in perfectly.”
Fifty seniors participated along with 50 4-H kids, pairing up with each other to build the bears.
“I was really excited to see all the people that came out,” Katelyn said. “At first I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t have enough people but when they all came out I thought it was so amazing.”
Croskrey said that the response she had from the seniors involved was overwhelmingly positive.
“The seniors have been saying how glad they were to do this and how uplifting it is. There have just been so many wonderful comments,” Croskrey said. “I just think we need more of this kind of stuff. In bad times there are others who are always suffering more than you and this is a way to help.”
At the end of the day, firefighters with the Scotts Valley Fire District stopped by to pick up the bears, which will then be given out to children the first responders come in contact with while doing their job.
“We see a lot of bad situations out there and one of our jobs as paramedics is giving teddy bears to the little ones,” Capt. Pete Stelling said. “You should see the smiles on their faces. That is part of our treatment, calming people down and making them feel good. I think it’s a wonderful thing and I’m sure this is going to bring a lot of great smiles to the children that [the bears] are going to be given to.”