hug-me-bear.jpgWhile sitting in front of his computer in Georgia, B.J. Elliott read a blog post by Maureen Forbes about her desire to make 100 handmade teddy bears and cookies for children impacted by AIDS in her town of Wilderness, South Africa. Forbes only had enough fabric to make 20 bears. Elliott offered to help her raise enough money to make 1,000 teddy bears. Word spread and a group decided to launch Operation Teddy Bear Care at

“These are challenging economic times for me and many others,” said co-founder Elliott. “But I believe that it’s important for us to help others, even if we have to dig a little deeper to do so.”

For the month of December, the Operation Teddy Bear Care team is encouraging people, in lieu of giving gifts, to purchase in the name of friends and family, teddy bears and basic food packages for the South African children whose lives remain so challenging.

“These children are being orphaned or left vulnerable by the thousands due to the AIDS epidemic. Many suffer from malnutrition, eating one meal a day,” said Elliott.

The teddy bear and basic food packs, priced between $10-$30 USD, can be purchased through the Operation Teddy Bear Care Web site at All of the items are purchased and delivered within South Africa by local Operation Teddy Bear Care team members who volunteer their time. The team is over a third of the way to their goal of giving to 1,000 children this holiday season.

“Every child needs a teddy bear to cuddle…especially little ones who don’t have a mother’s love. These children have many needs, and I feel they all need a cuddly toy that they know is their very own. We’ve also recently added basic grocery packs to two of our packages,” said Forbes, who co-founded Operation Teddy Bear Care.

Mbali Creazzo, an AIDS educator and member of the Teddy Bear Care team who has traveled to South Africa several times, says, “These kids are used to barely getting basics. Many do not even get one meal every day. We hope to bring them a little comfort in their world of scarcity.”

Learn more about Operation Teddy Bear Care at Donation packages can be purchased through the Web site.

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