EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Recently on Veteran’s Voices, Eyewitness News featured a local organization called “Veterans Promise” in Lackawanna County which provides outreach for vets going through PTSD and substance abuse issues.
Friday night we’re doing a follow-up on a new project involving a cuddly bear and the effect it’s having on families who’ve suffered a loss.
It’s the simplest of playtoys, but this teddy bear is making a big difference in local kids’ lives. Kids who’ve lost a parent or loved one.
Dave Ragan of Veterans Promise came up with the idea four years ago after a local seven-year-old girl lost her father. Ragan picked up a large teddy bear and gave it to her at the funeral to help her get through a tough time. It was supposed to be a one-time thing.
“But I will tell you, something changed in that child when we handed her the bear. There was this instant connection. The bear never left her hands and we were there for a couple of hours,” Ragan explained.
A one-time gesture of kindness became a permanent addition to Veterans Promise. Ragan named the bear “Major Hugs” and after funding from donors, Ragan was able to buy more of them.
Now he gives a bear to every child who’s lost a veteran family member. He’s now hoping to extend Major Hugs to active-duty soldiers who are deployed. Ragan says Major Hugs has been a healer in more ways than one.
“I hope that Major Hugs will replace me as a spokesperson one day. Major Hugs can be the person that talks to you because this message is just absolutely amazing,” Ragan continued.
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