The teddy bear drive Adam Giles organized earlier this year wasn’t just a passing phase.
Ministering to others has become a way of life for the 21-year-old autistic man.
Giles founded an organization, Teddies Who Care, after his aunt gave him a teddy bear in the spring. He had been ill at the time, and the bear – and the gesture – made him feel good.
To spread that good feeling Giles collected nearly 200 teddy bears and in July delivered them to children at The Shepherd’s House shelter and the Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin.
Now he’s ready to go again.
“For the past few months our website said that we’re going to do a Christmas Teddies Who Care drive,” Giles wrote on his website. “Well that date has arrived.”
From Oct. 10 through Nov. 30, Teddies Who Cares will collect donations of teddy bears and toys.
This time around, the bears will be distributed to the Dobson and Mount Airy Police Departments as well as The Shepherd’s House and Children’s Center.
Teddies Who Cares will also serve as a drop point for Toys for Tots, partnering with other local businesses and organizations participating in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s annual toy drive.
The toys and bears should be new and unwrapped, according to information provided on the Toys for Tots website.
Giles’s goal for this season’s drive is to collect 500 toys and 300 teddy bears.
The teddy bear and toy drive is really just the tip of the iceberg for what Giles has planned.
In August, he and his mother, Betty Giles, were baptized.
And a couple of weeks ago, Giles became became an ordained chaplain through an online program.
The biggest development, however, is the new home base for Teddies Who Cares.
Giles paid to have a storage building installed outside the family’s Old Highway 601 home.
Inside the spacious building, which the family calls “the shop,” Giles set up a desk, a table topped with teddy bears, and a clothing rack where bear clothes can be hung.
“Kids and their families will come and those with special needs, autism, cancer, deaf, any kind of special needs can pick out three teddy bears, one outfit for each teddy bear, and dress it up and take it home,” said Giles.
He explained that each visitor aged 21 or younger will get to pick out three bears so they can share with siblings.
“Did you know more kids will be diagnosed with special needs than last year,” he wrote on his website, including statistics such as how one child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes and 43 children are diagnosed with cancer daily.
“And those are just the stories we hear about. That is why I have decided to create Teddies Who Care,” he wrote. “It is to create a place of peace and happiness too.”
The shop is in pretty good shape. Some bears and clothes are already to go; chairs and Halloween decorations are set up on the porch; windows and doors let in the Surry County vista.
In addition to ongoing needs for new or gently used teddy bears and clothes, the ministry is also seeking donations of materials to help panel, paint and insulate the building, build a handicapped accessible ramp and install a donation box outside.
“He wants it to be all year round,” said Terry Koehl, Giles’s father.
“Terry and I just want him to succeed on his dream,” Betty Giles said.
Adam Giles hasn’t lost sight of his original mission as the teddy bear drive and ministry projects continue to grow.
He recently gave one of his prized Build-A-Bear bears to the son of his grandmother’s nurse.
“I just wanted to do it,” Giles said, recalling how the nurse posted a picture of the boy squeezing the Incredible Hulk-themed bear online.
“He slept with it,” said Giles. “He was so tickled.”
Reflecting on the simple act of kindness and his son’s dedication to the ministry, Koehl said, “We’re blessed as parents to have a son that cares about others.
For more information, visit TeddiesWhoCare.simplesite.com, call 336-429-2839, 336-356-2020 or email [email protected]
Bears, toys and donations for the ministry can be dropped off at 2425 Old Highway 601, Mount Airy.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.