TYLER, Texas (KETK) – On Thursday, patients at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler received something to smile at this holiday season. A non-profit, called “Bre’s Bears”, delivered bags filled with plush toys for adults in the hospital for Christmas.
The idea started 5 years ago, when BreAnn Benson was told that she had a brain tumor at the age of 7. During her time in the hospital, she was given an abundance of stuffed animals to comfort her. Now she is 12, and the tradition continues to grow.
“When she first came we only went to a couple of units, and it’s just it’s grown every year and she’s now an incorporated entity,” says Annette Garcia, the director of volunteer services at Christus.
Something that added to BreAnn’s purpose was when her own mother had to undergo surgery and BreAnn realized that her mom was not given any kind of stuffed animal to provide her comfort.
“I got 25 bears in my hospital stay, when my mom went into the hospital she didn’t get any and it made me very sad. So I created a charity where I only deliver to adults,” BreAnn says.
She adds that she has seen children be provided with a variety of different comfort resources, and she wanted to extend that to our older patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that she was able to deliver these gifts, guidelines require her to pre-package the bears and she is no longer allowed to drop the animals off herself. But BreAnn says that she wasn’t going to let it change the way she spreads joy for those away from home.
“Because of COVID, some people don’t have anyone to come see them because they don’t let most people in, some people just want that comfort and that love,” BreAnn adds.
The staff at the hospital says that you would be surprised at how excited adults get when being gifted one of BreAnn’s bears.
“The nursing staff is just so very grateful, there are tears even just from the nurses. They’re just grateful, and the patients are overwhelmed sometimes because they didn’t really expect it,” Garcia says.
While she may be small, she has accomplished big things. Her non-profit mission was even recognized by the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2018, but her biggest goal is to make sure that everyone feels loved this holiday season.
BreAnn spends all year fundraising for this giveaway. She brought a total of 8 bags, filled each with 225 stuffed bears, that were given out among 2,500 patients.