Retired primary school teacher and grandmother, Eilidh Dow, decided to start knitting bears for children from Ukraine after spending the winter making “trauma teddies” to send to youngsters experiencing distressing events around the world.
The Facebook Group, Teddies for Ukraine, was set up and the knitting pattern for the teddies was posted online.
The page has drawn 670 followers in just over a week and people around Scotland have been knitting the colorful bears.
Dozens of children from Ukrainian orphanages were given one of the bears as a welcome when they arrived in Scotland last week, and in future they will be distributed through the Ukrainian Club in Edinburgh.
Mrs Dow, from Dollar in Clackmannanshire, said: “These children have had their lives turned inside out; so many traumas rolled into one almighty nightmare.
“We hope this sends a message to Ukraine and its people just how many people in Scotland are thinking about them, how much we care and how much we all want to do what we can to help.
“Scots are famous the world over for our warm welcome and hospitality; we all want to make a difference right now and we are just so moved by the number of people who have got behind the project and are now knitting those little bears which are being given to the children when they arrive after a long, exhausting and harrowing journey to our home in Scotland.
“The interest we’ve had has been overwhelming.”
Keen to find a distributor for the bears, Mrs Dow’s daughter, Mhairi Clarke, contacted the charity Dnipro Kids which was involved in bringing 54 orphanage children, along with seven legal guardians, to Scotland.
The children were given their teddies, with a handwritten note, in their welcome box last Friday.
Mags McPherson, a volunteer with Dnipro Kids, said: “The group arrived safely overnight in Callander last week and Friday saw what was the most humbling and rewarding day of my life when I was privileged to be allowed to travel to Callander with the boxes, each box labeled with the child or adult’s name and a welcome message.
“To see the delighted faces when they opened the boxes was truly amazing. The Teddies for Ukraine project has really captured the nation’s mood and provided so much love and positivity at the most difficult of times.”
The Ukrainian Club in Edinburgh has welcomed the initiative and will help to distribute the bears, hundreds of which have been knitted.
Its chairwoman, Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, said: “We will be opening the community center as a hub soon and can give them to the children when they visit.
“It is a wonderful idea and the knitted bears have brought so much pleasure to the people who are knitting them and comfort to the children receiving them.”
The pattern for the teddies and more information can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UkrainianTeddies
Knitted teddies can be sent to Teddies for Ukraine, Hibernian Community Foundation, 12 Albion Place, Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh, EH7 5QG.
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