The teddy bear has long been associated with love, friendship and caring. What better way to calm a frightened child than by giving him a teddy bear to hug. The county home extension clubs have been doing just that for years.
Anna Fagg is the volunteer community project leader of the Clay County Homemakers' Club. A member of The Modern Misses Home Extension Club, Fagg says the local clubs have been making teddy bears for at least 15 years.
Each month they give 10 of the plush little toys to both the Clay County Health Office and the St. Vincent Clay Hospital Emergency Room.
When tiny tots get immunization shots or a child has to make a scary trip to the emergency room, a soft, lovable teddy bear can help wipe away some terrified tears.
The home extension clubs make sure these two medical facilities never run out of the cuddly comforters.
There are currently 13 home extension clubs in the county. Some work independently. But periodically a group of them get together at the 4-H Fairground, set up their sewing machines and make the tiny teddies.
"We give out 20 each month," said Fagg. "We've done it for at least 15 years, probably longer. It helps quiet the kids down. Makes them a little less frightened. They can feel like they have a little friend with them."
The Home Extension ladies have given out at least 3,600 bears over the years. That's a lot of love.
Jayne Riley, who works for Intrepid Health Care, lives out by Lena.
"Five years ago when my son was 8 he had an anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting," she said. "We took him to Clay County Hospital.
"If we'd had to take him to Terre Haute he'd have died, Riley continued. "He was blue and gasping for air. While he was in the ER, after he was coming out of it and reviving, the ER nurse gave him a little teddy bear.
"He was so scared and that bear helped calm him. He still has it. We appreciated it so much. It also helps the hospital staff interact with the young patients. The nurse can give something fun to them instead of just a shot."
As long as Fagg and her home extension friends are around, a little bear will be there.