Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult events to get through, but a unique program is giving the grieving something to hold onto.
Pamela De Boer received a specially made teddy bear, after losing her grandmother, Gladie.
"She lived to 100 so she had lots of wonderful memories to cherish all her life and with these we get to cherish for the rest of our lives to remind us of her," she said.
Those memories come alive with the Ministry Memory Bear Program for Hospice Patients, run out of Wisconsin Rapids.
"The memory bear program has just been so well received, the families are just, when they see those bears they're immediately touched, they're very grateful to the volunteers," said Deb Hickey, the volunteer/community outreach coordinator for hospice services in Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids.
When a family has a loved one in hospice care, they're asked by staff if they'd like to participate in the program. If they oblige, the family presents volunteers with clothing, quilts, even curtains to be used to create a memory bear in their loved one's honor.
De Boer has the one with the avocado green curtains. She says it reminds her of drinking java in her grandmother's kitchen.
"It becomes very creative," said Hazel Jolliffe, who sews for the group. "Every garment we get becomes another challenge."
In the three plus years the program has been running, volunteers have made more than 300 bears, and each one is unique with special details.
"It is very rewarding," Jolliffe said.
The first bear is free for families who have used Ministry's hospice care, after that each additional bear is $50. Money raised goes to help underinsured and uninsured hospice patients.
For De Boer, whose family ordered 19 bears in memory of grandma Gladie, that's priceless.
To volunteer sewing bears, contact Deb at 1-800-397-4216. The program is looking to expand throughout Central Wisconsin.