Becca Swiler (right), director of St. Thomas’ Child Development Center, and high-school junior Kate Poirier pose with some of the special teddy bears that Poirier and her mother made for the center.

Tommie teddy bears just the ticket

Tearful toddlers at the St. Thomas Child Development Center will have some special friends, thanks to two White Bear Lake women.

Kate Poirier, a junior at White Bear Lake Area High School – South Campus, and her mom, Lee, donated three dozen hand-made teddy bears to the center on Aug. 9.

Seven were special purple-and-white bears, fashioned from bandannas the pair picked up last year at UST’s Minnesota State Fair booth.

The Poirers’ donation represents only an armful of the hundreds of teddy bears they have made for community organizations. The bears are designed to comfort or reward young children “in transition”: holding a special teddy can be just what’s needed to help an upset toddler.

Lee Poirier began making teddy bears about 10 years ago with some help from her then-little daughter as a member of the Qwest Pioneers, a community service group at the company. She continued the project after she left Qwest, using donated and found materials to make the bears. Kate has since taken over the reins of the project as a member of the Ambassadors group at her high school, where she’s earning a letter for her work.

"Of course we appreciate every donation of toys or materials to the center," said Becca Swiler, director of the Child Development Center. "But to receive such beautiful, handmade bears is something really special. The kids here are absolutely going to love playing with them."

Some of the center’s little clients were so thrilled with the bears that they found it hard to leave them at the center at the end of the day, Swiler said.