Homemade stuffed toys found along highway find new home at Golden House

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- When you’re a passenger in someone’s vehicle, do you ever find yourself looking out the window at the side of the road?

Normally you see car parts like tires or pieces of garbage lying along the road, but what one Green Bay woman saw led to a caring donation.

Last Thursday, Melissa Warburton was riding in her mother’s vehicle, heading west on Highway 172 in Ashwaubenon. As they passed the Oneida Street exit, Warburton saw something in the snow along the side of the highway.

“I saw these colorful things along the road, and as we got closer I said those are handmade Care Bears laying on the side of the road,” said Warburton.

Warburton and her mother took the next exit, turned around and went back to pick up the Care Bears safely.

“My first thought was, somebody bought these for their grandkids for Christmas or someone made these presents and they are missing them, and I need to find the owner so they can get back their presents,” said Warburton.

So Warburton carefully washed and cleaned them up, then made a bunch of social media posts.

Eventually she received a message on Facebook.

“It wasn’t too long after I received a message from a man saying, 'You found my mom’s bears,'” said Warburton. “He said, 'We just moved her into an assisted living facility and I was taking the bears to storage.' He says she makes the bears and donates them. He asked that I donate them because that is what she would like to do, so I said, ‘Absolutely, I will find someone who needs them.'"

Warburton called Golden House in Green Bay.

“I immediately said yes,” said Jordin Gegare, a primary advocate at Golden House. “There’s no way I was going to turn them down.”

Golden House is a non-profit service provider and shelter for survivors of domestic violence.

“When people are in the midst of fleeing they are usually coming to Golden House, and we are helping people at the peak of their crisis,” said Gegare.

Gegare said 50 percent of those people coming into Golden House are children. To make the children feel safe and secure during a traumatic time, she said all kids get a donated book, blanket and stuffed animal.

“It gives them a sense of security and caring, just the ability to grasp something at night and hold it close,” said Gegare. “We often times see when kids suffer trauma there is regression, so just to go back to the security of holding something against themselves and giving themselves something to also care for during that time, it’s important to them and important to us for them to have it.”

“I think Golden House is an amazing place. They take care of women and children in the community when they need it the most,” said Warburton. “I hope that they know someone cares about them and that everything is going to be okay. Even though it might be scary right now, they have this animal they can hug to feel safe and cozy.”

And how fitting to know that Care Bears and Piglet will be there to take extra care of the children in our community.

“We are forever appreciative and grateful, and I know all those children will be as well even if they don’t know the story behind it,” said Gegare.

“I just want to thank the man who came forward and said they are his bears,” said Warburton, "and to thank this woman for making stuffed animals, she has incredible talent, and I am excited some little kids will be able to snuggle them.”

“This is going to change some child’s life. It’s a stuffed animal, yes, but it’s so much more to them and that’s why this donation is so much more than a donation to us,” said Gegare.

Because Golden House is a non-profit, it relies mostly on donations. If you would like to donate, head to their website at www.goldenhousegb.org. Click on the ‘give support’ tab at the top of the page and it will let you decide how you would like to donate. Golden House accepts monetary donations to help run their programs, hygiene products, stuffed animals and much more. If you are not sure what to donate, click on the ‘wishlist’ and it will help you decide what to buy for those in our community.