The Matthew Freeman Projects’ Matthew Bears are free teddy bears for the family members of soldiers who died in the line of duty.
Losing a loved one is difficult under any circumstances, but when the person that passed dies in the line of duty things can be even harder. In these instances, death comes without a chance to say goodbye, usually after an absence of time spent together, and with little assistance in overcoming your loss. After losing her son Matthew to the war in Afghanistan, one mother started decided to do something about it. She began The Matthew Freeman Project, in hopes that it would help others who had lost loved ones.
The Matthew Freeman Project is a non-profit designed to foster promise and peace throughout the world, and one of their biggest initiatives is the Matthew Bears. The Matthew Bears are stuffed teddy bears crafted from the uniforms of fallen soldiers that are made free of charge for family members. People interested in obtaining bears email the project who will match them up with a seamstress who will create the bears and mail them out. The bears are designed to help families cope with the loss, and are also a way for Matthew’s mother to remind people of how he lived- in service.
On the project’s webpage, Lisa Freeman says Matthew’s life was one well spent. He had a multitude of interests, from tennis to playing the saxophone to Shakespeare, and he used those platforms to connect with people. In high school he brought pride to his school by being a two-time tennis champion and playing his saxophone for the school marching band. He also was selected, as a freshman, to teach upperclassmen about the works of Shakespeare. His main interest, however, was always flying- which led him to become a Marine Pilot. He opted out of the safety of being in the cockpit and volunteered for ground action in Afghanistan when he heard additional ground forces were needed. This mission would take his life nine days later.
Though mourning someone is a long process that never fully ends, having something to remember that person by can be a big help. Matthew Bears are more than average teddy bears; they are a physical aid in the deliverance of comfort, at a time where that kind of support is essential.
[h/t] Design Taxi