Bears donated to charities

Melissa Berg

More than 500 teddy bears from the Bear-to-Care Tree on display at North Grand Mall throughout the holiday season recently were donated to charities in Story County.

North Grand Mall, 2801 Grand Ave., partnered with Mary Greeley Medical Center, 111 Duff Ave., Ames Mayor Ted Tedesco and the Ames Jaycees to create the Bear-to-Care Tree.

“Starting at the end of October, schools, clubs and other service organizations began collecting the bears,” said Shelley Goecke, marketing manager of North Grand Mall.

Donations were made by groups such as the Ames High Key Club, Ames Edwards Elementary third-graders and Nebraska Furniture Mart, of Omaha, Neb., Goecke said.

She said the 12-foot-tall tree was built with chicken wire and plywood and covered with teddy bears. It was featured at the Fantasy of Trees and Lights held at the Holiday Inn Gateway Center, Nov. 20-22, an event hosted annually by the Mary Greeley Medical Center Foundation.

The teddy bears were given to organizations for donation and then distributed by those organizations, including Mary Greeley Medical Center, Story County Emergency Management Services, Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, Beloit Lutheran Children’s Home, the Ames Police Department and the Story County Christmas Closet.

“The teddy bears are given to children who are in-patients and to those brought in an emergency situation to comfort them,” said Casey Mahon, director of community relations at Mary Greeley Medical Center.

After the tree was displayed at the Fantasy of Trees and Lights, it was moved to North Grand Mall and was on display from Nov. 22 to Dec. 22. A total of 577 bears were then distributed to the charities.

“What Shelley [Goecke] did with this project was incredible,” Mahon said. “It was a really neat thing to do for the kids in the community.”