Utah’s ‘Grandma Bear’ delivers hundreds of repaired, stuffed animals to sick children

Sep 11, 2022, 11:18 AM | Updated: 11:47 am

SALT LAKE CITY — In downtown Salt Lake, there is an apartment that is bursting at the seams with new family members.

There are the quadruplets: Tom, Bill, Henry, and Zephaniahs. And next to the piano is Giavanni, a concert pianist. There is Bonita, Sally, Aquavelda, Wanda, Dixie, and many, many more. Enough to fill every piece of furniture!

At the head of the family is Linda, better known as Grandma Bear. And what makes her family unique is they are actually all teddy bears.

“I had no idea I would lose my name, Linda Rae, to Grandma Bear, but so be it. It happened!” Linda explained, laughing.

Over the past two years, she has made over 2,500 personalized teddy bears. Each one has its own story and personality to go with its hand-tailored outfit and custom-designed quilt, all crafted by Grandma Bear.

“These are my children,” she lovingly said.

Linda takes them in, no matter their state. Tenderly picking one up, she noted, “this little moose has to have back surgery”.

Most of these teddy bears and animals are found in second-hand or discount stores. Grandma Bear takes them home and then, “I put them in the washing machine, dry them and brush them out, then sit them on my counter, and then I just stare at them, ‘What are you? What are you?'”

It’s as if the bears speak to her.

“This is Attikus. He decided that he wanted to go into space, and he picked out a vest, so we sewed on some spaceships.”

It’s a labor of love made bittersweet because these bears are only going to be living here for a short time.

“I will deliver them by the end of the week over at Ronald McDonald [House] and Primary Children’s [Hospital].”

They are destined to be adopted by boys and girls who need them most.

“And that’s hard and I miss them, and then I start all over again.”

Two years ago, it was actually Linda who needed these bears the most.

“Sometimes there isn’t a whole lot to smile about.”

She was having heart troubles, and her doctor told her she would be physically limited in what she could do.

“I couldn’t get off of the couch for two solid weeks. And I realized I was terribly depressed. And, at 83, I thought, I have no life at all.”

So Linda did what she had done her whole life in times of trouble, she turned to God.

“I rolled off the couch, got on my knees, said, ‘I need some inspiration. If you just want to give me one word, that would be fine.’ Well, the next day, he did – just ‘bears’, so then I recanted and I said, ‘how about a paragraph?’”

But then it came to her, she knew what she had to do and got to work.

“Creating something that will hopefully bring a smile to a little child’s face.”

After she drops off the bears, she isn’t able to see them given to the children, but she hears stories and knows they are making a difference. Because they aren’t bears you will find in a store, they are made with love; grandma’s special love.

“I’ve just found something that I can do with the health conditions that I have. I can still reach out and touch other people’s lives.”

Grandma Bear funds this all out of her own pocket and with the help of donations and nonprofits such as The Oliver Fund. If you would like to donate, you can visit their website.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Officials urge parents to follow Utah's regulations on the use of e-bikes, scooters and ATVs. (Lone...

Carlysle Price

Officials urge parents to follow e-bike regulations

The Lone Peak Police Department issued a reminder June 12 on regulations regarding the use of e-bikes, golf carts, and ATVs on streets, sidewalks and parks.

1 hour ago

Kamensky's apartment damaged by the flooding that happened in Price, Utah on June 21, 2024....

Brianna Chavez

Several people displaced, homes flooded in Price after severe thunderstorms

Several people in Price were left with flood damage after a severe thunderstorm moved in Friday afternoon.

12 hours ago

Handcuffs in a jail cell. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...

Michael Houck

State employee arrested, accused of having sex with a teenager

A man who works for Utah Department of Government Operations was arrested and accused of giving a teenager drugs and having sex with her.

14 hours ago

The Mill Creek overflowing with water....

Michael Houck

Moab officials issue flash flood warnings as roadways flood

Moab officials are asking residents and visitors to avoid rivers and not cross bridges over them due to the high waters Friday evening.

14 hours ago

Multiple Taylorsville houses were flooded with sewage water Thursday after a construction oversight...

Garna Mejia

Several homes flooded with raw sewage

An offensive mistake had neighbors reeling from a backed-up sewage line that flooded into their basements Thursday morning.

14 hours ago

Strong winds blew a tree over in Vernal, UT. Friday. (Heather Fuchs)...

Carlysle Price

Severe winds cause damage throughout Utah

Following severe thunderstorm warnings throughout Utah Friday, many areas have experienced extreme, damaging winds.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Utah’s ‘Grandma Bear’ delivers hundreds of repaired, stuffed animals to sick children