Hobsonville Point knitters have turned out in force to help with Ryman’s effort to send 20,000 teddy bears, or ‘Yuri bears’ over to children in Ukraine.
When the Hobsonville Probus Club heard about Ryman’s plan, a number of members picked up their knitting needles and contributed to the effort too.
“It broke my heart when I heard about the war in Ukraine,” said Avis Jury, who lives in Waterford village in Hobsonville.
“I’m a mad knitter. So I thought, why not help?
“I knitted one and then wanted to do another one to make it better, but I just kept on going. I knitted seven in the end.”
Kim Dawson who manages Keith Park, Ryman’s Hobsonville village, says the community’s effort has been touching.
“You feel very helpless when you hear the stories of the children over there,” says Kim.
“Being able to do something small for them, gives a lot of people a sense of purpose and has brought the community closer together.”
She is grateful for the Probus club members who got behind the knitting project.
“I would like to thank the knitters very much.”
Bound for Ukraine via the Red Cross, the Yuri bears will be delivered to children in refugee camps on the border of Ukraine and Poland.
With around two-thirds of children in Ukraine displaced by the war and leaving home with almost nothing, residents at Keith Park are hoping their bears will go a small way to giving them something to cuddle during a difficult time.
The woman spearheading the effort is Ryman Sales and Community Manager Debra Richardson, from Melbourne, who has a personal connection to the project.
In the 1980’s she put her hand up to foster a Ukrainian child in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion. A little boy arrived at her home called Yuri.
Now an adult, Yuri is back in Ukraine fighting for his country.
Keith Park joins 45 other Ryman Healthcare villages across Australia and New Zealand knitting the Yuri bears, working towards an end goal of sending 20,000 over. The bears are being sent with love at the end of September.