Not every Mother Bear volunteer starts out as a master knitter. Some, like Florida knitter Nicole Bureau, use their perseverance and commitment to the child that will one day receive the bear to learn a little more about knitting with each stitch.
When Nicole first heard about Mother Bear Project while watching the Knitty Gritty television show in 2005, she said a "10,000 watt light bulb" flashed on in her head.
"I knew right there and then that I wanted to contribute to this project," Bureau said. "However my knitting skills were very basic."
She struggled at first, while creating her first box of bears.
"When I received the pattern, I did not know how to pick up stitches along the edge to make the arms, so I would knit the bear up to that point and put it aside."
But Bureau did not let this obstacle stop her from completing her bears and sending them to the children that she knew would be comforted by the fruits of her efforts. She practiced picking up the stitches over and over again until she finally figured it out, and shipped her first box of bears in December of 2006.
"Consequently, the first box I shipped had 49 bears in it," Bureau said. "There would have been 50, but I ruined one while trying to fix the face, which was a big challenge for me."
At first, Bureau worried that her bears were not attractive enough, but she was comforted when she read in a newsletter that Amy's mother ran a "Bear Hospital", making small adjustments to give a little extra life to the bears before they were transported to the children.
Bureau is a beautiful example of how, with a little tenacity and a lot of perseverance, nothing can stop us from making a difference in the world.
"It feels really, really, really good to know that your spare time is spent helping a little child half a world away," Bureau—who has now completed over 600 bears—said. "My original goal was 1,000 bears, but I now know that I am in it for the rest of my life."
Bureau has just one message for other Mother Bear volunteers; "I would like to tell the beginners not to give up."