East Lothian woman who created The Big Bear Hunt is ‘blown away’ after creating global community

An East Lothian woman who created a teddy bear hunt Facebook group for her seven-year-old daughter Lexii and her friends to combat stress and ease their mood throughout the health pandemic, has unwittingly created a global community of people sharing their delightful stories.

By Caitlyn Dewar
Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:00 pm
Jodie and her daughter Lexii have been decorating their windows for The Big Bear Hunt
Jodie and her daughter Lexii have been decorating their windows for The Big Bear Hunt

Jodie Donaldson from Prestonpans created the group when the Scottish Government closed schools across the country and it now boasts over 6,000 members from as far as Australia.

She said: “My wee girl is in P2 and her friends sometimes take their teddy bears in to school on Fridays, when the schools closed I spoke to some other mums and suggested we put the teddies in the windows so when we go out for walks the kids can see each other’s bears and give them a wave.”

Jodie decided to create the Facebook group, named The Big Bear Hunt, on a whim, so that other local mums could decorate their windows and post pictures in the group.

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Within five days, the group had grown to over 5,000 worldwide members, and has members from Australia, New Zealand, America, South Africa, Thailand and Canada.

She added: “I thought it would be a nice idea and something for the kids to see - it’s anything for a distraction. It’s a worrying time for people, I’m pregnant and my daughter is seven and my partner is still at work so I thought if I don’t have a distraction, I’ll shut down. It’s a really nice way to keep my household happy.

“On the page there is no speak about the pandemic. It is just purely joy and stories from all over the world about bears, and there’s a lot of members of the older generation who have joined and it has given them something to smile about and brought back memories of their own childhood bears.

“To bring joy to so many people in such a horrible time just blows me away.”

Some of the stories shared on the page include teddy bears which are over 85 years old and have been passed down generations, and one bear from 1987 which was rescued from a Bay City Rollers concert.

“Lexii loves it, she has been collecting bears since she was born so it is a great excuse to get them out. She wants to decorate every window in the house,” Jodie added, “Also when we are on our walks it means when she sees her friends bears in the window she gets excited that she is seeing their teddy and it’s their house, rather than feeling sad that she misses her friends.”

As the community grows, it is transforming from just a bear hunt to people helping others throughout the pandemic.

A member from Norway is currently knitting bears and bookmarks which are planned to be auctioned off for a small fee to raise money for the NHS. Members are also offering help to those in their area by linking up to be able to bring small essentials to those who are unable to get out.

Jodie added that the group are also coming up with ideas to help support small businesses during this time.

“It's such a beautiful thing in such a turbulent time and I never expected this to happen.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped create and make such a nice place for people,” Jodie said, “It really makes the world a bit less lonely when you have 6,000 people writing to you and sending messages of support.”