ShareBear United was founded in 2006 by Jackie Babb. After witnessing the devastating effects of pediatric illnesses on children, she became interested in developing a way to give to children during their time in the hospital that would help them cope with illness and associated challenges. As an avid quilter and needle work artist, she thought creating hand-crafted teddy bears would be the perfect avenue to give to children in need.
ShareBear United started out the day the first ShareBear was born when a few scraps of fabric from prior sewing projects and a bag of stuffing turned into a beautiful bear. With the help of a sewing mentor, a pattern was developed. During the first years of the ShareBear United, Jackie created the bears in her home with a group of friends and family and delivered them to a local hospital in South Florida. Since then, the project has grown and people from all over the state of Florida have become involved in donations and creations. ShareBear United continues to deliver in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Gainesville, Florida.
At first Jackie thought these bears would bring just bring comfort to suffering children. However, the project developed in something much deeper. During her college years, Jackie became a Child Life volunteer and learned about the intricate psychological effects of hospital stays on children. One day when Jackie was volunteering she met a young patient that introduced her to her bunny stuffed animal. The patient tossed the bunny in the air and said to Jackie, “Oh my God! It hopped!” Jackie continued to play with the patient and her ever so lively rabbit through medication administration and other treatment procedures. This was Jackie’s first glimpse into the understanding that mechanisms for coping for children in the hospital are deeply rooted in play and self-expression activities. She realized that her bears that she was donating to these children were much more than just a token of comfort. These bears are friends, confidants, companions, and family during extremely difficult times. They are not only snuggled, but they are become alive in the hearts and souls of these patients who depend on them for managing the foreign environment that often strips them of the normality of their childhood during their time in the hospital.
Today, Jackie is fourth medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. She continues to create bears and deliver bears for donation to the hospitals as she understands even deeper now the importance of her project to the children that receive donated bears.