WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A Wichita Falls family is asking Texoma for help collecting some cuddly teddy bears for children at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

After spending time at Cook’s themselves, they do the prayer bear drive each year to help the same place that helped them.

Mandy Albers said she’ll never forget the comfort that the pastoral care team at Cook Children’s Medical Center brought her family when her son Keegan was there years ago.

“We were there for seven days and they actually brought a prayer bear to his room and I thought it was very meaningful. So when you’re in the hospital and your a first-time mom and you don’t really know what’s going on, the hardest part is not understanding anything that was happening and I remember pastoral care coming in saying, ‘hey can we pray for you guys,’ and I thought oh my gosh. At that point of his stay, I needed that more than anything,” Albers said.

That simple gift of prayer and a teddy bear is what has inspired Mandy and her son Keegan to do a prayer bear drive each year to benefit the many children spending the holidays at Cook’s.

“This will be our fourth year and we love going and praying over the bears and we love seeing everybody’s face and how happy it is,” Albers said.

In the past, Albers has collected hundreds of bears that they then drive down to Cook’s to pray over alongside members of the pastoral care team like director Pam Foster, who said this program is near and dear to her heart.

“Twenty-four years ago in October we started the prayer bear ministry as a way to invite those outside our walls to be a part of us,” Foster said.

Foster said the everlasting effect that receiving these bears has on these children and families like the Albers is what keeps the program going strong.

“I feel like I continue to want to give to them no matter what because they helped with Keegan and they helped with his journey,” Albers said.

Foster said she thanks them both for their commitment to putting a smile on those children’s faces.

“To go from room to room and see the smiles on the faces of not just the children but the parents and grandparents when we bring that bear in and say this bear comes to you in love from people you’ve never met who are praying for you,” Foster said.

A family giving back to the very place that gave so much to them.

Bears can be dropped off at Trott’s Drug, Eglish Pharmacy, Parkway Grill, or Northside Gill during regular business hours. Albers will be collecting bears up until December 17th.The bears cannot sing or be scented.