Community-donated teddy bears brings smiles to children in local hospitals

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 350 children will receive a teddy bear in the emergency department at the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, and it’s all thanks to a private donation. 

The shipment came in bright and early Monday morning courtesy of “Achievement Gallery,” a community partner of the hospital.

“It’s been our honor and pleasure to work with UNM, they’ve been a great organization to work with,” said Melanie Burns, owner and president of Achievement Gallery. 

Burns is a merchandise and logo expert, which is why she decided these bears needed a pop of color.

“Does this make you smile? Because it makes everybody smile to do with teddy bear, and we wanted to do something a little bit diverse, and we did little tie-dye T-shirts for them. So you know, boys, girls, men and women, everybody loves a little teddy bear,” said Burns. 

“Kids are already scared coming into an environment that they’re not familiar with,” said Andi Martinez, a registered nurse with Sandoval Regional Medical Center’s emergency department. “They are comforted by toys, by stuffed animals by the things that they would have at home.”

SRMC says this is why its community partnerships are important. The hospital has to use its public funding for other resources.

“It’s very difficult to get new stuffed animals sometimes are backordered, sometimes we can’t get them, sometimes we don’t have them at all,” said Martinez. 

So when donors step up to help fill the gaps, even with something as small as a teddy bear, it makes a big impact.

“It puts a lot of smiles on — there’s a lot of kids out there that that makes a big difference for them. So wherever those donors are, you know, thank them. I want to thank them very much for this,” said Genevieve Maez, mother of the first child in the emergency department to receive a teddy bear.