Mother Bear Project
Newsletter #30 – March 2016

Featured Mother Bear

Jonathan Freed

While many people knit and crochet bears, only a very special few are able to add the felt heart, that final finishing touch that outwardly shows the love and care that goes into each bear. Of this relatively small group, one person stands out: Jonathan Freed, the only male heart sewer in the bunch.

Jonathan joined the monthly heart-sewing sessions two years ago after learning about Mother Bear Project through a friend on Facebook. “[I] thought it would be a good fit for a semiretired old man who can sew,” he says, adding, “My first sewing bee, and I love it.”

Every month, about 20 people show up at the Turtle Bread Bakery in Linden Hills, Minnesota, to sew red or pink hearts on 400 to 500 bears. Jonathan says he’s “the only guy there, and everyone genuinely appreciates that.” He enjoys the companionship offered by the group, but doesn’t always join in the conversation—“I’m not sufficiently skilled to sew and chat at the same time without pricking fingers.”

Jonathan might not appear to be a natural for a sewing circle. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he moved to Minneapolis to attend law school and ended up owning and running his own marketing agency for 20 years. He now works as an Internet consultant when he’s not sewing hearts onto bears or spending time with his financée, Lisa Feder, and his adult children, Berit and Noah.

But don’t let outward appearances fool you: Jonathan comes from a long line of tailors, stretching back to Kiev, his grandmother’s hometown, where most of the family were tailors. “My Bubbe Yetta taught me to sew buttons on shirts when I was 6 so she wouldn’t have to do it—pretty clever, I’d say,” he explains.

Asked why he continues his family’s sewing tradition at Mother Bear Project, Jonathan points to the companionship he finds in the sewing circle and, even more importantly, the satisfaction of doing something to help children. “When you see the photos of the joy in the faces of the kids that get a Mother Bear,” he says, “then you, too, will be able to answer this excellent question.”

In the meantime, he plans to keep sewing hearts—and encourages others to join in, from knitting or crocheting bears to visiting to contribute. “Keep on knitting, crocheting, sewing and contributing,” he says. “So many more kids need the love.”

Recent Bear Sightings

Adventure Mother Bears

We are adding a new section to show that some of our bears go on adventures before they are sent to Mother Bear headquarters. If you have any photos you would like to share of your bears on an adventure before the big adventure to Africa, please email them to

Taken at Glacier National Park, Montana. Bear made by Nancy Bekedam.

Taken at Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming. Bears made by Nancy Bekedam and Susanna Bekedam.

Notes from the Den

Dear Friends,

I want to welcome all of the new knitters and crocheters who are now on board to help Mother Bear Project after coming upon our booth at Stitches West! We had a lively booth, made possible by so many fabulous volunteers who shared their bear making insights and encouraged the newbies to the craft as well as the knitting and crocheting pros to help us create more bears for more kids! So many cute bears were dropped off and we sewed on their hearts right at the booth. It was fun to meet so many of you!

For those who would like more help with perfecting their bear faces and ears, learning how to make bear accessories like the hoodie and fancier bear skirts, and many more bear making tips, please join our group on Ravelry. There is a “pages" link at the top of our group page that will guide you to advice from some of our bear experts. We also have a very active group that has monthly bear making themes with randomly chosen winners and it is so much fun—I hope you will join us there!

Mother’s Day is approaching on May 8 and it is a perfect time to sponsor a bear. For a $10.00 donation, we will name a bear in honor or memory of your mother, friend or person of choice, and send a card out if you would like. The bear will be sent on to Africa and a child will soon be calling their new friend and object of comfort by their name.


P.S. Donations of colorful variegated worsted weight yarn and forever stamps are needed and greatly appreciated!

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