As part of our ongoing anniversary celebration, we're revisiting some of our most memorable stories. In 2006, we introduced you to an Oklahoma couple who help mend broken hearts with one-of-a-kind keepsakes.
While the volume of orders has slowed, Tynsy and Ron Foster, of Grove, Okla. (pop. 5,131), continue to assemble a few dozen Miracle Bears each week to help people with grieving and lonely hearts.
Since 2000, the Fosters have fashioned more than 4,000 cuddly keepsakes from the clothing of deceased loved ones and U.S. soldiers deployed overseas.
We knew there were people hurting through grief, but we didnt know how many people were holding their grief inside, says Tynsy, 63. The bears enable them to release that grief and go on with life.
After their story appeared in American Profile in 2006, the Fosters were overwhelmed. Their telephone rang nonstop, and they installed a second line to handle all the calls; hundreds of orders arrived at the Grove Post Office each week; they bought a storage container when Tynsys alteration shop overflowed with boxes of clothing; and the couple worked tirelessly, sometimes seven days a week, to fill orders from around the world.
Finally, earlier this year, the Fosters, with the help of a few volunteers, eliminated their once-enormous backlog. The couple also upgraded their website, www.tynsysmiraclebears.com, recorded a CD about grieving that is distributed with each $60 custom-made bear, and published a book, The Miracle Bear Story, featuring the story of their bear-making business, photos of some of their cuddly creations and testimonials from grateful customers.
I cant thank you enough for the priority mailing of the Miracle Bear, wrote Chris McMahon of Highland Park, Mich. Allison is 4 years old and misses her Pa very much. She saw the bear and knew it had been made from Pas shirt. At first she cried, then she kept saying it smelled like Pas shirt.
Tynsy says the touching letters have more than made up for the long hours and the handful of customers upset because they had to wait up to nine months to receive their huggable mementoes, sewn from baby blankets and bathrobes, flannel shirts and fur coats, denim jeans and leather jackets.
For the Fosters, helping the heart-broken is a blessing and a ministry, and they pray theyll find someone to carry on their work when they no longer can stitch and stuff their cuddly creations. Miracle Bears will never end, because its a miracle how they help people heal, says Ron, 73.