This past Saturday, Bears 2 Go and Jeff Craddock, owner of Enchanted Bear and Friends, embarked on a project to help the children of Newtown, CT after a crazed gunman took the life of 20 innocent school children. With the help of the American Legion of the State of Connecticut, the event took place on April 13, 2013 at the Newtown Methodist Church in Sandy Hook from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. At the event the children were able to spend some good quality time with their parents, all while hand-stuffing their own teddy bears with materials that had all been donated by Bears 2 Go with stuffing donated by Fairfield Processing. The teddy bears were then dressed in t-shirts donated by Cremosa Foods with a logo printed by Dennis Ingberg of Chai Five Promotions and Rethink Your Ink. By the end of the event, 450 teddy bears were stuffed, dressed and taken home.
During this fun-filled day at the Newtown Methodist Church, you could hear the laughter and joy of children accompanied by their family members all because a group of individuals set out on a mission to help make a difference to these children and their families but also give them a day to be able to rest at ease not thinking of that horrible day that many Americans wished had never occurred.
The small group that organized this event said that the reasoning behind the event was to help the children know they are loved and that people truly care. Jeff was quoted saying, “We need to let people know that good people do exist and that one person will not stop our good will. We care about our children and hope this event will make these children, after witnessing such a horrific event, know that God is watching over them and loves them.”
Jeff is third generation military. His family covered WWII, Korea, Vietnam, small skirmishes and Gulf War 1. When Jeff’s dad came home in 1969 from Vietnam no one greeted him, but he was acknowledged with harsh remarks. Jeff’s dad had been blown out of a truck and broke his back, a leg and both arms. At the time Jeff was nine and could not help or even understand. Jeff’s tour of duty ended seven years early because of a medical accident. Then America went to Gulf War 2, and he was seeing the carnage coming home, and after seeing the VA and our government at work with both his father and himself, Jeff made a promise that if he was given an opportunity to make a difference he would. In 2004, Jeff opened a create-your-own-bear store. Jeff’s first make-a-difference arrived in a small package of an eleven-year-old girl who was suffering from leukemia for the second time. Jeff took an entire day of sales in her honor and was able to provide this child with $1000.00. Jeff took none of the money to cover any expenses and it felt right. In 2005, Jeff started making military teddy bears and making donations to VFW, the Heroes to Hometowns, even directly to veterans. The moment Jeff heard about Sandy Hook, he knew that this was another moment of making a difference in his life. Jeff made three phone calls the week following the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident and obtained enough materials to make these teddy bears and event happen.