Clallam Bay inmates hand-make teddy bears for tots
Griffin and Momoka Bartsch were the first to pick out a teddy bear from a box donated to First Step Family Support Center by inmates at Clallam Bay Corrections Center who made the toys through the Bears From Behind Bars Program.
By Peninsula Daily News staff
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“We weren’t expecting the delivery and were really excited by this donation,” said Staci Matthes, First Step’s development manager.
“When we called the prison and learned about the Bears From Behind Bars program, the donation was even more valuable to us. The bears have been really well-received by the kids, and the families we serve appreciate hearing the story about where the bears came from, too.”
Four to eight inmates residing at the Clallam Bay prison participate in the Bears From Behind Bars program for one hour per week with support from two volunteers.
The corrections center has participated in the program for about two years, and more than 150 bears have been donated to the community.
“The Bears From Behind Bars program’s main goal is to provide comfort through teddy bears to as many children as possible throughout Washington state,” said Fay Gingell, corrections specialist at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.
“The program also helps offenders bridge gaps with their families by making bears and sending them to family members.”
Gingell added that most of the inmates who participate in this project are life-without-parole or long-term offenders who take a great deal of pride in the fact that the time spent to sew and stuff the bears benefits a local child.
Materials used to sew the bears are all donated, Gingell said, and supplies and fabric scraps are always needed.
“It is fun to see how creative and resourceful they are getting,” Gingell said. “For example, they use every donated scrap, using leather from jackets for noses and paws.”
For more information about Bears From Behind Bars or to donate, phone Gingell at 360-963-3203.
Last modified: September 22. 2013 7:53PM