At Bears for Humanity, we know that our customers are people who care and actively look for ways to make a difference in the world. With so many causes and ways to make a difference, it can be hard to find a place to start. 

Allyson Perling is a Bears for Humanity customer who has been donating our plushies to patients at the Children’s Minnesota hospital on a monthly basis. We’re inspired by her commitment to spreading good in the world and wanted to share her story with you. 

The Power of a Teddy Bear

Allyson’s donations have been carefully thought out, and she considered many different vendors to partner with for these donations. She came across Bears for Humanity and loved how cuddly and cute our products are and that we have so many different plushies to choose from! Yet, Allyson ultimately chose Bears for Humanity because of our commitment to organic materials and the Fair Trade process. 

Allyson said she knows the value of organic, hypoallergenic goods because her own family struggles with an array of sensitivities. As children in the hospital are one the most sensitive populations, she knows how these organic and non-toxic plushies can really make a difference.

“If there’s only one child that benefits from having a [safety] sealed stuffed animal, then it’s worth it,” she shared.  

Indeed, Children’s Minnesota has reported many cases of children and teens being uplifted by the bears that Allyson has donated. One patient was sharing with the hospital staff that they were missing their pet dog, who was a great source of comfort for them at home. The hospital staff gave the patient one of the stuffed animals that Allyson had donated. 

“We explained that while it certainly was no replacement for their beloved dog, maybe it could hold the place for now until they were able to return home. They took to that idea and used the stuffy as a comfort tool throughout their stay,” a hospital staff member explained. 

A Donation 18 Years in the Making

Allyson’s decision to make these stuffed animal donations was a long time in the making. Allyson grew up in a family where giving back to others was a regular part of life. From an early age, Allyson’s father, Philip Perling, taught his children to practice Tzedakah, a Jewish concept of charitable giving. Whether it was donating new sheets to the synagogue’s nursery, or buying stuffed animals at 50% off to donate to the local children’s hospital, Allyson grew up with a dedication to helping others. 

“Giving is really in the fabric of my DNA. I honestly think I inherited it from my dad,” she told us. After her father passed away, Allyson knew she wanted to find a way to honor his memory through the same practice of selfless giving that he held so dear. 

In the spring of 2021, Allyson saw a post on Facebook from a teacher at her synagogue that was holding Zoom classes. In the post, the teacher shared that a social worker from the Children’s Hospital, who had been a guest teacher, told the class how she had witnessed the soothing effects stuffed animals have on children and teens going through medical treatment. The social worker also mentioned that hospitals struggle to get enough stuffed animal donations throughout the year, as most donations are concentrated at the end of the year.

This answered a question that had first come into Allyson’s head almost eighteen years before…

When Allyson’s daughter was only two years old, she was admitted to the hospital after suffering from some frightening symptoms. Allyson and her husband spent the holidays in the hospital, watching their daughter’s treatment in angst. Allyson remembers a bounty of toys being distributed to kids around the hospital. She was touched by the offer of a special toy for her daughter. Allyson remembers mentioning to her family that she wondered if the number of toys and plushies were sustained all year round or if there was a shortage before and after the holidays. 

With her question finally answered by the social worker, a seed that had been planted in Allyson’s head over eighteen years before blossomed into a plan. Allyson was inspired by watching the synagogue class raise over 600 bears to donate to different charities. 

Thus, she decided to make monthly teddy bear donations to the local children’s hospital in honor of her late father. She is happy all of these pieces came together and knows that her dad would be thrilled with these toy donations being made in his honor.

How You Can Get Involved 

Allyson explained that with this story, she hopes to inspire others to find a way to give back as well. “It seems like there is a real need for stuffed animals in hospitals across the country. They really can make a difference for someone in the hospital. It’s an accessible way to have a real impact,” she said. 

If you’re interested in donating bears or stuffed animals to a hospital, send an email to our co-founder, Vijay, at vijay@bears4humanity.com.

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