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20220330 Bonhams BearsAt the annual teddy bear give away that was held on March 3, Bonham’s Bears gave away 400 bears to five local organizations. Bonham’s Bears is based at Green Bay South in La Feria.

The organizations donated to were Family Crisis Center, Children’s Bereavement Center Rio Grande Valley, Rainbow RGV Community Partners, Loaves and Fishes of the RGV, and City of Harlingen Fire Department Station Two.

The Bonham’s Bear volunteers enjoyed the presentations offered by the caring organization. They noted that the organizations have also enjoyed networking with each other on how each might support or contribute to other organizations’ efforts.

Seventeen volunteers came to the teddy bear give away event. The volunteers contributed light refreshments and thanked Subway for the sandwich donations.

Rick Collins, a Bonham’s Bears volunteer, also talked about the pet pillows the organization makes. They showed the pillows that are donated to the Humane Society of Harlingen. Loaves and Fishes told them the pillows would also give the homeless a comfortable place to rest their sleeping heads on instead of plastic bags or the concrete.

Linda Greenlee, president of Bonham’s Bears, said that, for the first time in over 20 years, Bonham’s Bears is considering making teddy bears during the summer, depending on whether enough people volunteer, and someone is willing to head up the summer effort.

Carrie Correll, who donated some material this year, said she volunteers at a thrift shop, noting that the shop throws away a lot of sheets and pillowcases. These will now be collected and used for the pillow project.

Along with the project possibly continuing during the summer months, organizers plan to get Green Bay South residents to help collect personal hygiene items to donate as well.
Each organization presented information about their purpose and where the donations go, how they help the people they serve.

Adrianna Hernandez at Family Crisis Center, said all their services are free, including a shelter that holds 30 people. They also have a thrift shop they need volunteers for at 124 W. Jackson St., in Harlingen (Repeat Performance Thrift Shop). All proceeds from the thrift shop fund expenses for the families they serve, including birth certificates, clothing, and other items. The teddy bears are at the shelter entrance and each counselor uses a teddy bear in their work.

Children’s Bereavement Center offers free counseling and therapy to help grieving children ages three to 24. Ernest Espinoza said they have a Hall of Tears showing the children’s drawings of loved ones that were lost, including 100 lost to COVID last year. They also have a “buddy barn” where the teddy bears will be placed. Each child draws a stuffed animal from the buddy barn. Visit CBC-RGV.org for more information.

Rainbow RGV Community Partners is a non-profit and state-funded organization that provides rooms to help children removed from their homes, often in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Emma Menchaca with Rainbow Rooms, said they have simple requests, and then some not-so-simple requests. Recently, they had one child asking for a bath because he had not bathed in two weeks. A 21-year-old brother was struggling to keep his siblings together and, in despair, committed suicide. The siblings asked for a funeral for their brother and volunteers stepped up and raised money for that funeral.

About 75% of the children they help do not graduate from high school, said Menchaca. Of those, 50% are immediately homeless. The Rainbow Room was able to throw a graduation party for one girl, who was the first in her family to graduate.

“The children want family,” she said. Every child, even the teens, gets a teddy bear.

Loaves and Fishes is also a non-profit organization and receives a lot of help from the Winter Texans every season, especially around Christmas time. The organization has an outreach program where vehicles are driven to the homeless, many of whom are military veterans. They distribute a meal, personal hygiene kits, socks, coats, and a blanket to those they find. They also operate a kitchen that provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also has rooms for women with children and a bunk area for men at their 514 South E. St., in Harlingen, where there are also counselors, nurses and caseworkers. Volunteers are always needed. Visit their website at lfrgv.org for more information.

Lt. Pablo Sanchez, from the fire department, said that every morning “we check the firetruck engines, firefighting equipment, and teddy bears on board.” There are a lot of traffic accidents, he added, and we use the teddy bears to reach out to young people of all ages. Some children are stunned and silent. Others say, “I don’t want a teddy bear; I want my mommy.”

“We firefighters know that later, after recovery, the children will remember the teddy bears,” said Sanchez.

If you would like information on how you can help Bonham’s Bears, or get in touch with any of the organizations, contact their secretary at maplefrye@gmail.com. Put Bonham’s Bears in the subject line.

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