The Angel Teddy Bear Foundation supplies teddy bears to hospitals at no cost so they may give the bears to parents of stillborn children, miscarriages, and neonatal loss. “The bear is given with a sympathy card and is meant to give the parents something to hold on to, as their child is precious and can’t be replaced,” says Holly Schippers, who, along with being a CND educator and the owner of FingerNailFixer, is the state director of the Iowa chapter of this non-profit organization.

She became involved in late 2005 after the loss of a daughter when she was halfway through the pregnancy. “Going home from the hospital after giving birth to a baby, without a baby to hold, was the most soul-deep, empty feeling I have ever experienced,” says Schippers. “I found support through a group online and was directed to the Angel Teddy Bear forums. Here I found companions in grief, and a way to give back and honor my little girl.

“Their simple directive appealed to me and gave me a way to enable the hospitals in my area to give the parents a physical, huggable, tear-absorbing friend to help them make it through. Then if they need it, the sympathy card contains a link to the website where they can find support to help work through the grief.”

In her role as state director, she checks in on the forums, supports new families that are grieving, collects teddy bear orders from other volunteers, and distributes bears to the hospitals in her area. “Within the next few years I hope to hold a teddy bear collection drive on October 15, which is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day,” she says.

For more information, go to www.angelteddybears.org.

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