After the action and excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a day to remember the spirit of the season and give back to those in need. That’s why Rayanna Messenger, owner of Messengers Gifts and former Woman’s Hospital patient, donated more than 200 Giving Bears to Woman’s NICU patients just in time for the holiday season.
Teddy bears are more than just stuffed animals — they are cuddly tools for healthy emotional development. Plush bears are a way for babies and children to practice and reinforce important life skills, self-soothe and feel love even when they are not in someone’s arms.
With silky fur and weighted paws, Giving Bears are specifically designed to provide more comfort than the average stuffed animal. Bearmakers created Giving Bears to be as soothing as possible, extending the bear’s arm length for better hugs and dyeing one ear black to signify its ability to listen.
In addition to the Giving Bear itself, the product includes a bookmark inscribed with a poem meant to remind the recipient that a friend is always near.
“Sometimes you can feel so small in a great big world. Sometimes you might feel like a giant who can climb any beanstalk,” the bookmark reads. “However you are feeling, I want you to know how important YOU are. Whenever you need a little comfort, a little safe, a little brave, just whisper in my ear and hold me tight. I’ll be here for you.”
In 2020, Rayanna was diagnosed with breast cancer and received treatment at Woman’s Cancer Pavilion. During this time in her life, she felt the love and togetherness of everyone in the community and realized the importance of giving back to Baton Rouge.
Rayanna decided there was no better community to give back to than Baton Rouge’s most vulnerable patients. This year, NICU babies and their families will spend Giving Tuesday knowing that community members all over the city are committed to uplifting and supporting them in a time of need.
“Unexpected kindness from the staff at Woman’s Hospital, strangers and my customers made me realize we were missing an opportunity right in our backyard to spread the gift of comfort and kindness,” Rayanna said. “We hope the children and their families who receive the bear during the holiday season know they are not alone. Wherever they go, the bear will bring comfort and joy with its message and presence.”
To see how you can make a difference and support the mission of Woman’s hospital visit: www.womans.org/grateful