GLADWIN – On any Tuesday, except for holidays and snow days, one would find 25-32 ladies of Gladwin County at work making Love Bears. This takes place at the Gladwin Church of Christ, 125 E. Grout Street. You would hear many conversations taking place at the same time, lots of laughs, and see many busy hands making Love Bears. You would also experience prayer time when the workers take time out to pray for anyone anywhere who needs prayer. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, the 30,000th Love Bear was completed.
One might ask what is so special about these little bears. On a quiet Sunday afternoon in 1991, a young woman named Martha Love enjoyed a leisurely drive down a Tennessee highway after church. Riding along with her were her young son, Andrew, and her good friend, Fanny. Soon she would give birth to a second baby, and their family would be complete. Martha Love’s life should have stretched out for years of happiness.
But life holds no guarantees, and that day, Martha lost control of her car. Later, desperate doctors saved her unborn baby through emergency surgery, but Martha died two days later. Baby Will Love joined his brother Andrew, never to know his wonderful mother.
Later, Martha’s friends from church remembered their feelings of helplessness as they tried to comfort young Andrew, afraid and lonely in the hospital, crying for the mother he would not see again. For months these ladies put their creativity and caring together and decided to launch the Love Bear project in Martha Love’s memory and to honor Andrew and Will.
The Gladwin Church of Christ picked up this project in 1995. All materials and supplies have been donated by loving people wanting to support the project. The Love Bears have found homes in the following places: Gladwin Hospital Emergency Room and Lab, Beaverton Clinic, both Gladwin nursing homes, local doctors and dentists, Shelter House, various police, fire, and rescue departments, West Branch Hospital, Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor), Grand Rapids Hospital, Children’s Hospital (Detroit), doctors’ offices in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, Veteran’s organizations, Boy Scout organizations, Cass Park (Detroit), rescued POW’s from Iraqi War, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blue Star Mothers for Families of Fallen Soldiers, Kosovo refugees, Hurricane Katrina victims, Issac and Nina Gnohou (missionaries in the Ivory Coast), missionaries in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Africa, President and Mrs. Bush and many friends, neighbors, and families all over the country.
There are two original ladies from the 1995 group. They are Mary Ellen Emmert and Joan Berry. The group started out with five ladies and has grown to 32-35 ladies.
Celebration for this accomplishment took place Oct. 15 with a luncheon, entertainment and a day off. Congratulations, Gladwin Love Bear ladies.