Comfort can come in many forms – a bear, bee or bunny

Bears with bows, bunnies with fancy ribbons…..they may seem small and insignificant, but not to someone living in a nursing home, who rarely gets a visitor. They are warm, snuggly and comforting.

Patricia Gallagher is a woman from Pennsylvania who believes in listening to the “still soft voice inside.”

It’s true that most people think stuffed animals and baby blankets are for kids. What I have found is that for the elderly in nursing homes, the reaction is the same. The textures, the different varieties of stuffed animals, and the sheer joy when they select the one that they want to cuddle with, is a beautiful sight to see.”

Patricia founded STORIES FOR SENIORS, a one-woman organization that provides stuffed animals and soft blankets to people in senior care communities. Now, with over 3500 collected and distributed, she is hoping that someone will step in to help her continue the project.

Money raised through the sale of the Team of Angels pins that she created goes to the expenses to operate the program. However, as the program has grown, that is not enough to cover the costs. www.teamofangels.com

Fifteen months later, sixty senior healthcare facilities have received the furry critters.  Patricia says, “So many residents have no family members nearby. They have lost their friends to sickness or living miles away.  When I look around the room and see 30 residents in wheelchairs, holding a stuffed animal, with a colorful blanket on their lap, I see smiles of joy and hear laughter.

 Patricia is glad she listened to her heart. And, to the still soft voice that told her to start collecting dogs with colorful hats and bears with fancy bows. Now, with her four kids all grown up, she no longer asks herself, “What’s a mother to do?” She has found a new calling, in her “empty-nest years.”  www.storiesforseniors.wordpress.com

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