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Bringing hugs to children who have experienced the loss of a loved one

For the second year in a row, Camp Stepping Stones, Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority’s  camp for grieving children, celebrates a generous donation. Every child who attended camp received a very special teddy bear from Interlake-based business, Little Elska, --a total in-kind donation of $3,000! The bears were patiently waiting for the campers on their bunks as they arrived on their first afternoon at Camp Arnes on May 31.

Little Elska is a home-based business owned and operated by Jackie Horvat out of Arborg, Manitoba.
It specializes in hand-made products such as personalized blankets, back packs, stuffed animals and a wide assortment of personalized items that can be customized for each customer in a special way, with a child's name, birth-date or more.

When Horvat heard about Camp Stepping Stones last year, she knew she had to contribute in some way.

“A friend of mine mentioned Camp Stepping Stones and I knew right away this was something we wanted to donate to. There are so many reasons why everyone should give more hugs, and we were so proud to provide each camper with their own bear to hug, and have as a special keepsake,” Horvat said.

Camp Stepping Stones’ volunteer liaison, Sandra Milotte, says the bears accompanied campers on all camp activities and will act as a memory of the camp experience now that campers have returned home.

“The bears provided comfort to the children and acted as a bridge to share their feelings and experiences with other campers,” says Milotte.

Vera Appleyard, palliative care psychosocial specialist and camp liaison says having methods for children to express their feelings, such as cuddling a teddy bear, encourages them to share their feelings whether they are afraid, sad, guilty, angry or loving.

“This cuddly little nonjudgmental bear can be at their side listening to their thoughts without fear of being judged differently from other children,” says Appleyard. “We are so grateful to Little Elska for their kindness and generousity.”

This is another great example of community giving coordinated through the Interlake-Eastern Health Foundation (IEHF). Thank you to the many donors that made Camp Stepping Stones a success this year. For a complete list of donors or to find out more about Camp Stepping Stones, please visit www.ierha.ca and click “Care in Your Community”, “Palliative Care” and  then “Camp Stepping Stones.”
For more information on the foundation and how it benefits the region’s residents, visit “Interlake-Eastern Health Foundation” on Facebook, the website at www.iehf.ca or contact Pamela McCallum at pmccallum@ierha.ca.

little elska
Photo L to R: Kylie and Chayse Horvat pose with the bears their mother Jackie has made and donated to Camp Stepping Stones.

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