Seniors sew teddy bears for Shriners’ hospital

GREENFIELD — For the past year, some Greenfield senior citizens have been sewing, stuffing and stitching teddy bears for ill children at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield.

The effort was part of GVNA Adult Day Health Services’ community service project. Several dozen seniors, patients at the 489 Bernardston Road health care center, made 108 teddy bears, in addition to 10 tied fleece blankets, to send to the hospital.

A few students from Franklin County Technical School also helped with the project.

“This is awesome. I can’t thank you enough,” said Anthony J. Leroux, a member of the Shriners, a fraternal organization attached to the Freemasons.

Leroux and Donald Carberry, a director at the hospital, arrived at GVNA on Friday to receive the teddy bears and blankets, and to personally thank the seniors that made them.

“Faith, hope and charity, that’s what we stand for,” said Leroux, explaining that the Springfield hospital was the second of 22 Shriners’ children’s hospitals built around the world.

Carberry also pointed out that Shriners is run largely through donations, and support from public groups like that at GVNA is crucial. Roughly 19,000 children will be treated for conditions like scoliosis, cleft palates and chest wall deformities at the Springfield hospital this year, Carberry said.

“The gifts we receive, it lets the kids take something fun physically home with them from the hospital,” Carberry said.

According to GVNA Activity Coordinator Julie Clark, the seniors themselves chose the Shriners hospital as the recipient of their charity. They also chose to give teddy bears to the hospital last year, the first year of the GVNA community service project.

“I went to Shriners hospital in 2007 for scoliosis, myself,” Clark said.

Clark added that while the program allowed the group to do something special for children in need, it also taught them the valuable skills of sewing and knitting, fun things the seniors will be able to do in their spare time.

“When I started five years ago, a bunch of you wanted to learn to sew,” Clark said to the crowd. “Last year, we made 108 teddy bears, and this year we just made another 108.”

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