The symbol on Loving Hugs’ brochure is a rotund brown teddy bear holding a pair of heart-shaped balloons. Reminding one of Winnie the Pooh, it’s …
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The symbol on Loving Hugs’ brochure is a rotund brown teddy bear
holding a pair of heart-shaped balloons. Reminding one of Winnie
the Pooh, it’s just the sort of bear that a frightened young child
would love to snuggle.
In 2007, Wendy Clark of Littleton started an international
non-profit organization after receiving a letter from a U.S.
military officer deployed in Iraq who had seen young children
brought into a military outpost hospital, frightened and alone. She
was certain that a cuddly stuffed animal would provide comfort to
such a child, as well as others affected by wars, natural disasters
and other stressful events beyond their control.
Loving Hugs Inc. collects new and gently used stuffed animals,
has them cleaned and sends them through military contacts and
volunteers around the world.
As animals were donated, Clark soon realized she couldn’t
personally deal with cleaning them all. Fred and Susan Baker,
owners of Heritage Cleaners, stepped in and offered to
professionally launder all the “hugs” as Clark calls them, as well
as offering their 16 sites as drop-off locations. Under the expert
eye of employee George Tateosian, more than 60,000 stuffed animals
have been cleaned and sent to new little owners in 35
Donations have come from across the United States, Canada,
Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.
Storage soon became a problem and again a generous local
business came to the rescue. Mary Bradford and Mickey Kempf of
Bradford Auto Body offered unused office and storage space, plus
the use of the employee lunchroom for volunteers to inspect and
sort donations prior to cleaning.
Clark recently presented Awards of Honor to these businesses for
their humanitarian service.
Local families who may have surplus animals who need a new
little buddy — especially after Christmas gifts arrived from
grandparents and others — can donate them to this organization. For
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