Baptist missionaries offer comfort through bears

Pictured, “Comfort Bears” are presented to Waterloo and Monroe County emergency service agency representatives, from left, Carla Heise of Monroe County Ambulance Service, Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, Lisa Dean of First Baptist Church and Waterloo Fire Department Assistant Chief Brett Wiegand. (Kermit Constantine photo)

While teams from Builders for Christ have been converging on Waterloo to help First Baptist Church complete a construction surge on their new Beacon facility on Market Street, other groups out of the public eye have been just as hard at work giving to this community.

“Many treat the project with Builders for Christ as a family mission trip,” said Lisa Dean of First Baptist Church of Waterloo, who is serving as the logistics coordinator for the Beacon project.

Among the groups accompanying the builders have been kitchen teams, a youth bible study group, and a team of women and girls from First Baptist Churches in Dennison and Cedar Lake, Texas, who made “Comfort Bears” and lap quilts.

“They brought totes and totes and totes,” Dean said. “They brought their own sewing machines and an old discontinued Simplicity pattern, and made more than 50 bears.”

They arrived with the fabric pre-cut, and spent their days sewing, stuffing and hand-stitching the bears. They gave the bears, as well as 20 hand-pieced lap quilts they also made while in Waterloo, to First Baptist Church, which is using them to provide outreach to local emergency organizations and senior centers.

The bears have been delivered to first-responder agencies in Monroe County — including Waterloo police and fire departments, Monroe County Ambulance Service, and the Columbia police, fire and EMS departments. There are also some on their way to Hecker and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

From left, Columbia Deputy Chief of Police Jerry Paul and Interim Columbia EMS Director Shannon Bound accept “Com- fort Bears” from Karly Hoggard, Samantha Hoggard, Olivia Batts and Kris Hoggard of First Baptist Church of Waterloo. (submitted photo)

“We’ve also saved a few to give to Oak Hill for the Alzheimer’s unit,” Dean said. “The residents are all very tactile.”

Local emergency responders will use the bears to lift the spirits of youngsters they come in contact with while on the job.

The lap quilts were given to Oak Hill, Legacy Place and Garden Place senior living facilities in Waterloo to help provide comfort to residents.

The last Builders for Christ group is expected to depart Waterloo in mid-September.

“Then it becomes a home project, but it won’t be finished by any stretch,” said Dean, who noted that working with the three teams helping with the Beacon facility, as well as hosting local Baptist churches who have expressed interest in the mission of the new facility, has made for a lot of blessings and challenges.

“It’s been a wild, wacky, incredible summer,” she said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email