A virtual ‘bear hug’ to fight social isolation - West Neighbourhood House

stuffed animals ready to go to new homes

The COVID-19 pandemic is a terribly lonely, isolating time for many of our neighbours, especially seniors.

Members of our Downtown West Mutual Aid Network have teamed up with West Toronto Keys to send these neighbours a “bear hug” in a safe, socially distanced way: Rescued Bears. West Toronto Keys to INclusion supports adults with disabilities to pursue work, volunteer, and social opportunities.

A rescued bear package includes:

  • A stuffed bear (or other animal friend) that has been deep cleaned and knitted a custom accessory
  • A story about the rescued animal and a letter to the recipient from the rescued animal’s perspective written by participants in the West Toronto Keys program
  • A cloth mask to protect against COVID-19 — for the participant and for the stuffie!

The rescued animals will be delivered directly to recipients’ homes by members of the Downtown West Mutual Aid Network. Participants in the West Neighbourhood House Meals on Wheels and Adult Day Services programs have enjoyed receiving “bear hugs” in the form of a stuffed animal, a letter and a mask.

For information about the mutual aid network, how to get a rescued bear for someone experiencing isolation, or how to get involved, send an email to mutualaid@westnh.org with “rescued bears” in the title.

"This is Nigel" the letter says, with a story about the "103 acre wood." The stuffed animal is a small pig with a small knitted bandana
A letter and a stuffed animal from a Toronto Keys participant to a neighbour in the community
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