- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

OSHKOSH, Neb. (AP) - When she began collecting bears in the 1960s, Fern Robinson, 79, may not have known that her plush pals would pack the house one day.

In addition to setting aside an entire bedroom to display her collection, Robinson’s bears adorn shelves, nooks and crannies in the sun room and bathroom.

The 1,200-piece assortment of quilts, figurines, dolls, ornaments and beanbag plush toys come from places across the United States and locales as far abroad as Switzerland, Germany and Holland, Robinson said.

“When you get a collection going, people just start adding to it,” she told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald (https://bit.ly/1n8qOIM). “I got a lot of these for Christmas and for my birthday.”

Her collection is an integral part of her home, but Robinson has found another way to put the bears to good use. She is giving them away.

Recently, 50 bears went to Volunteers of America Western Nebraska Giving Bee to complement the quilts the group assembles for area foster children. Also, residents at the Garden County Nursing Home received about 75 bears around Christmas time last year.

Robinson’s project has stretched beyond state lines. With the help of her son, Dr. Dan Robinson, who works as an anesthesiologist for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore., hundreds of her bears have reached many ailing children.

The children at Doernbecher are coping with a variety of illnesses, but they all have one in thing in common, Robinson said. They could all use a friend.

Robinson’s own love of teddy bears traces back to her childhood, so she said she can relate to the comfort a stuffed buddy can provide.

By now, Robinson estimates she’s given away about 400 bears and there are still plenty more waiting at home. The bears hold some sentimental value, but the way they are serving their new owners is much more important, she said.

“It makes me feel good knowing they are making somebody happy,” she said. “There are memories attached to them, but I can remember those things and still give the bears to someone who will love them.”

Robinson added that anyone who would like to contribute a donation of his or her own is invited to contact her.

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Information from: Star-Herald, https://www.starherald.com


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