A little girl named Taylor Marie Crabtree (age seven) decided to start a business called TayBear Company. She made and sold hand painted hair clips at local stores to buy teddy bears for children with cancer.
She felt that these kids probably have a lot of sadness in their lives and she wanted them to have something special to hug and to hug them back. Taylor wanted them to know that even strangers care about them.
She initially set her goal at 500 teddy bears, which seemed like too high of a goal to her mother who thought that her her seven year old daughter didn't really understand. Her mother learned that she was actually the one that didn't understand.
The media picked up on Taylor's project and our community embraced her efforts. Help ultimately came from far beyond their little community. Taylor received donations from strangers that lived thousands of miles away, just from word of mouth. It became a chain letter from the heart. With her scribbly second grade handwriting, she wrote each person with her appreciation and an update on her project.
She expanded her project to include over 100 other children (including special needs kids) as helpers. Taylor wanted other kids to feel that they too were capable of helping others in their own way. Along the way she also raised her goal to 700 teddy bears!
What is truly amazing is that she has sold over 1,000 hair clips. The local supermarket even stuffs grocery bags with her flyers and has donation cans at their registers. But she has been very clear that none of this is about her but about helping the kids with cancer.
Taylor has been touched by so many people on her journey. While selling hair clips, one woman began questioning her about the project. She was very suspicious about just where the collected money was going. Taylor gladly talked on and on about all the little steps she had taken to that point and about children and cancer. Looking on, her mother noticed that the woman's suspicions had turned to sadness. She became teary eyed and stopped Taylor in mid sentence. She then leaned down and hugged Taylor from a place deep in her heart. She then told Taylor that her eight year old son had died just five months before from cancer and that he would have been very proud to have had one of her teddy bears.
Each day after selling, Taylor and her helpers talk about the people who had touched their hearts. Maybe it was the homeless man that had donated 11 cents and was surprised when he was told that was plenty of money to buy a hair clip. He and Taylor stood together choosing just the right hair clip for his lady friend. Or maybe it was the young woman who was flying back home the next day to say goodbye for the last time to her father, who was dying from cancer. Perhaps it was the man that drove all the way to his bank and back in order to buy a hair clip for his Mom. He said that his Dad had recently died from cancer. He wanted a child to have a teddy bear in his Dad's memory.
With each hair clip or donation has come so many memories and a realization that when working toward a goal from your heart, the journey too is part of the experience. Taylor once told her mother "how could people not see Angels, they're everywhere."
On a recent trip to the Cancer Center, Taylor was giving an art class on making hair clips. She met so many very sick kids. On the drive home she talked of Breanne, a three year old girl who had one eye removed in order to reach a cancerous tumor in her brain. Taylor enjoyed meeting her and talked about Breanne's beautiful smile and personality. Taylor stopped talking for a moment and then said "I really hope she likes my bear."
Taylor continues her work to reach even more children with cancer that could use a hug from a teddy bear.