Laura Lee Edwards

Canandaigua resident Laura Lee Edwards smiles with bears sewn for those seeking a physical connection.

CANANDAIGUA — Laura Lee Edwards, a resident of Canandaigua and grandmother of nine, has sewn and given away hundreds of large teddy bears to those lacking normal physical connections during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Due to pandemic regulations, physical touch, close proximity to others, and hugging is discouraged. Edwards created a way to bring warmth and hugs to those seeking connection.

“I’m physically unable to do some things,” Edwards said, “but I can still use a sewing machine.”

Edwards cuts, stuffs, and sews large teddy bears with long, wrap-able arms, each in a soft fleece fabric. During quarantine, Edwards has given out bears to neighbors, delivery drivers, construction workers, family members, postal workers, and lots of friends.

Allison Guillen from Danville, Calif., received a bear for her 3-year-old son, who was diagnosed with leukemia.

“Being isolated in a hospital is lonely for a kid,” Guillen said. “Jacob’s bear was half his size, in this cool Army print, and became a nice companion during his treatments.”

Edwards began sewing and stuffing bears over a decade ago when tornadoes were ravaging the Midwest and a cry for stuffed animals arose. Since then, Edwards has sewn and donated more than 1,200 bears to Blue Star Mothers, military personnel, Gold Star families, non-profit organizations, family members, cancer patients, UPS drivers, construction workers, special-needs children, neighbors, and virtually anyone needing a hug.

“I rarely get to see the recipients with their bears,” Edwards said, “but I know they bring great joy.”

When asked if she would sell them, Edwards says they are way too expensive. Each bear is made with love, and her love is priceless and not for sale.

If you’d like to receive a bear hug this quarantine season or know someone who needs one, feel free to contact her at lledwards@frontiernet.net.

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