SAN DIEGO — If you're having a bad day, there's nothing better than a hug.
In Wednesday's Zevely Zone, Jeff was invited to Ramona to volunteer for the Bears for Badges program.
It's an all volunteer group that makes Teddy bears for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Deputies then distribute the bears to children traumatized by a stressful incidents such as an accident, crime or domestic situation.
Every Thursday at Sew Easy Studio is Bears for Badges Day.
"I've always had a heart for kids," said Jeannie Stratis, the founder of the program.
Jeannie is married to Deputy Ernie Stratis.
"She wants to do something to help the community," said Deputy Stratis.
He is a law enforcement veteran who often sees children through no fault of their own in need.
"You know you see them and they are hurting inside and they are scared and they are unsure of what is going on," said Deputy Stratis.
His wife, Jeannie then added, "So I thought why not give the kids something to hold onto and what is better than a Teddy bear?"
When deputies are at a crime scene or car crash with children, they have their hands full. Why not fill up a child's hands with a teddy bear?
"Would you like a bear? Grab the one you want," said a deputy to a group of children at the Alpine Sheriff's station.
"We have been pretty productive," said Jeannie with a smile.
The program started in January and 225 bears later, "Santa's workshop. Yep, that's us," said Jeannie.
Ramona is a small town filled with big hearts.
"I am a hugger, I am a hugger and a talker," said Barbara Jean Smith , the owner of Sew Easy Studio.
Barbara told Jeff that Jeannie's idea keeps spreading from Ramona to Julian to Lakeside to Santee to Alpine and now to Lemon Grove.
"It takes one person with an idea, and it hit like wildfire which Ramona knows a lot about," said Barbara.
Any one can volunteer to help on Thursdays.
"Everybody sews and everybody has fun," said Jeannie.
Visibly forcing Jeff to see down at the sewing machine. Jeannie has the material in place with the needle ready to go so when Jeff starts sewing he says, "That is going quite well!"
With dozens of volunteers what looks like a sweat shop is more of a "Bear factory, exactly you can stuff, you can sew, you can trim threads, you can package, tie a ribbon, we've got something for everyone to do," Barbara says while sewing without missing a stitch.
Oh, and one more thing.
"Volunteers. Everything we have done is with volunteers," Jeannie said.
When hearts and hands combine for the same cause, "They are free. Totally free," said Jeannie with that smile again.
Big hearts. Little bears. Made by lovely ladies who are anything but your average bears.
"It was the perfect purpose, it's just a way to bring a hug or love to someone at a moment where they need it," said Barbara while still sewing and smiling.
This Zevely Zone ends with ... you guessed it - everyone grabbing a bear for a group hug.