DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As the war in the Ukraine continues, some older adults in Bucks County are working on a project to help bring comfort to some of the younger refugees forced to flee their homeland with their families.
For the last few months, Micki Keifer, a resident at Wesley Enhanced Living - Doylestown, Bucks County, has been building a slew of bears with the intent of bringing bear hugs to young refugees overseas.
"We're sending these over with a little heart on them," she said
"So these bears, and there's over 50 of them, we're sending them to a convent in Kraków, Poland," explained Christine Weyer, the Activities Coordinator with Personal Care at Wesley Enhanced Living in Doylestown. "They've been housing refugees from the Ukraine."
Weyer has a personal connection to the region.
"There is a nun there that has a special relationship with my brother and his wife," she said. "They're in need of lots of things, but we thought, why not send them some of our bears?"
"I just love it. They're such fun to make," said Keifer. "I'm very glad to be a part of it."
Keifer joined the sewing group when she moved there about a year and a half ago.
"Sewed for my children when they were younger and so I brought my sewing machine with me. And I'm happy that I did," she said.
The larger sewing group started making bears back in 2008.
"They wanted to give them to the local hospitals and police department," said Weyer. "And they've donated over 1,800 bears since that time."
Claire Bamford, who also resides at Wesley Enhanced Living in Doylestown, says the larger sewing group is involved in making other projects, like soup bowl cozies, that they sell to the community.
"We just have an assortment of things that we do," she said. "I feel very good about it."
Currently, Keifer and Kass Vogle have been the sole handcrafters of the bears.
"They're made in many colors and they're felt," said Keifer. "There's a pattern that's cut."
Vogle gets the bears started by tracing the pattern onto the fabric and cutting it out and Keifer does the finishing work. She says she stitches all around the bear, leaving a little opening for the stuffing.
Then, the bears are turned inside out and filled. Keifer says a lot of polyester batting is used to stuff the bears.
"We're all so happy we're sending these," she said.
Keifer says she hopes the bears will bring the young Ukrainian refugees some comfort - "like a security blanket."
Weyer says it felt "wonderful" knowing that residents wanted to send some love and support from here in the U.S. overseas to the Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
"When a little child holds one, they're just going to have a smile on their face," said Keifer.
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