Teddy bear ministry provides comfort to children at Iredell Memorial
PHOTO: Nan Forehand (left) and Keisha Gresham pose for a photo with a batch teddy bears Forehand donated to the Iredell Memorial Hospital Emergency Department.
BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
Nan Forehand is on a simple but important mission: to bring a smile and comfort to children who are scared or hurting.
About once a week Forehand brings a bundle of teddy bears and other stuffed animals to Iredell Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department. The staff gives the animals to children or others that they feel need them.
A devout Christian, Forehand said she chose her ministry to honor Jesus Christ. The effort started in 2011, after Nan’s daughter Ashley had gone off to college.
She often looked in Ashley’s room, and was comforted to see the bears she’d collected sitting on her daughter's bed.
Forehand said she had a vision of a little girl sitting on a bed in the Emergency Department and new exactly what she wanted to do. She felt called to place those teddy bears in the child’s arms.
“As much as it’s about the child, it’s about everyone at the time,” Forehand explained. “Nobody wants to see their child cry.”
The bears can also comfort parents, she said.
“The bear speaks a language of its own that everybody understands,” Forehand said.
When people donate to Nan’s Goodwill Bears & Friends, she said, “It’s just about honoring their intentions of helping a child.”
After the bears are donated, Forehand professionally cleans and fixes the bears if needed.
Her 5-year-old granddaughter, Amelia Cobb, often plays the part of her assistant.
She’s been instrumental in helping her grandmother make Teddy Bear calendars by being a model with the bears.
“We need to teach our little ones to give and not expect anything in return,” Forehand said.
In the end, Forehand said she simply wants to share Christ’s love and help make Iredell County a better place.
“It’s about community,” she said. “It’s not about me getting credit. You just can’t put limits on what God is going to do.”