Comfort Cubs: Malone woman helps ease trauma
MALONE — A Malone resident, with the help of donations from local businesses and service clubs, is helping to get therapeutic weighted teddy bears to help those going through loss, trauma or difficult times.
Beverly King has found by helping others heal from loss or trauma, she has been able to help herself, too.
King is a survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, one of thousands of people who had attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a lone gunman began firing into the crowd from a hotel room.
Approximately 840 people were shot and injured in the shooting, and 58 people lost their lives.
“I got started in this because of the mass shooting, when I started doing my bear program it was to honor the victims,” King said.
The Comfort Cub is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides comfort, through their weighted teddy bears, to anyone experiencing a broken heart or trauma as a result of loss.
According to King, she is part of the organization’s ambassador program.
“It is people like me, different people from all over the country who decided they wanted to raise money and be involved with getting these comfort cubs out there,” King said.
The organization, based out of Encinitas, Calif., was founded by Marcella Johnson in 1999, after the death of her infant son, with the bears originally intended for families who lost children, but later expanded to help those going through different forms of loss and trauma.
“They use them for more now than just infant loss, all kinds of trauma, and we find patients in nursing homes, especially now with COVID, who can’t have visitors, it is a comforting thing,” King said, adding the bears can be used for children with sensory issues.
King said the bears also go to children going to hospitals for cancer treatment.
“We do that a lot, we give the bears to the kids that are going through these treatments,” King said.
According to King, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and giving back, whether it is through fundraisers such as Big Change Round Up for Kids to help the University of Vermont’s Children Hospital or The Comfort Cub has helped her heal.
King said she started to give back after finding out about Comfort Cubs through an online support group, for victims of the 2017 mass shooting, where one of the bears was being raffled off.
“We have a couple support groups online, for people who survived the mass shooting and there was a fundraiser for a family who lost their son,” King said, “Part of the fundraiser was they were raffling off one of these bears, so I bought a ticket and won the bear and I gifted it to a little boy who lost his brother,” King said.
Through this, King said she saw the healing impact of random acts of kindness.
“What I realized was how thankful that family was and how good that made me feel, that I could give back,” King said, “PTSD is extremely hard and I found that doing random acts of kindness and giving back really helped me in my healing,” King said.
The teddy bears help convey to their recipients that people care about them and support them.
“As I gave out these bears, it’s almost like magic, I would say, in the response that people have for getting a gift from a stranger they don’t know, and them realizing that someone else cares, someone else is thinking about them,” King said, “I want people to understand that feeling that you get when you give back, even in a small way, is incredible.”
King said as she started to get more involved she wanted to honor one of the victims from the shooting, Sandy Casey. Casey, originally from Vermont, was a special education teacher killed in the Las Vegas shooting, according to King, who gave a comfort cub to Casey’s mother.
“I met (Sandy Casey’s) family and every time we did fundraisers for the hospital, everything was to honor her, her life, her passion, and her giving back. This is something she would have been so involved with,” King said, “When I do give back it is also to honor her and those that didn’t get home,” King said.
King credited local businesses with helping her to bring the therapeutic teddy bears to community members, adding a recent donation from Kiwanis Club of Malone funded a donation of these teddy bears to Alice Hyde Medical Center and Good to Know Goodrow, a home-based behavioral and education program in Malone.