The big bear theory: Stuffed animals collected to give to children at the hospital

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Adrienne Miller said the idea to collect stuffed animals to give to kids at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters was one that God dropped on her heart.

So naturally, she collected about 150 of them over the past two weeks to give to the hospital for Valentine’s Day.

Miller, a Suffolk resident and ACCESS College advisor at King’s Fork High School, was at Ryan’s Steaks and Cakes downtown to get the last of the donated stuffed animals before taking them to CHKD.

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Though many donations come around Christmas, Miller wanted to make sure children received something at a different point in the year to help comfort them during their hospital stays.

“Sending bear hugs was my theme,” Miller said. “And I was like, next time, the next holiday is Valentine’s Day. Why not, with everything going on with the children and what’s going on with children in reference to COVID, I was like, what better time?”

Miller said she had been at CHKD in September when a newborn grandson of hers was there for treatment and she saw children that, despite being in the hospital, were experiencing joy and playing, and it touched her heart to do something to spread more joy to them.

“I’m just looking around and it was just overwhelming because it’s so many,” Miller said, “but these kids were resilient.”

She had dozens of stuffed animals at Ryan’s from ones that were dropped off, and she had already collected about another 40 that were on her couch at home. Others had been calling her with more stuffed animals they wanted to donate, while some former students of hers have sent her money to help collect even more.

Those who donated stuffed animals were entered into a drawing to win a meal at Ryan’s.

“I just wanted to do something,” Miller said. “And why not a bear? You know, something that they can have, something that’s tangible that they’ll be able to have and to hold.”