Tom wholeheartedly supported the Kiwanis mission of “improving the world, one child at a time.” With that belief, he came to a crossroads in January 2018, when his brother Don Evans passed away, and his sister-in-law began sharing about Don’s special passion. She explained to him that, during the course of Don’s cancer treatment, he would stop by the hospital gift shop, on his way to appointments, and purchase two stuffed bears to give to the kids hospitalized there. Over the last six years of his life, Don gave over 150 stuffed animals to these very sick children.
Tom was not sure how to approach the Kiwanis club about adding another charity project, but hoping to carry on his brother’s legacy, began to discuss “the bear project” with individual club members. The consensus was that this project was special and would be embraced by the club. So, Tom set up a meeting at Texas Children’s Hospital, and the “Bears for Kids” project was born.
The project is simple; once a quarter, volunteers come to the hospital and pass out “bears” (shorthand for a wide variety of stuffed animals) to hospitalized children. Tom set a goal to give what his brother had given in six years—150 bears—but to do so each and every quarter.
Who could imagine how this project would soar! No one thought this would be anything more than a wonderful local project. Apparently, Tom didn’t get the memo. The Bears for Kids project, in its first two years, gave out 4,000 stuffed animals—more than three times the goal, and counting! The bears have been shared not only with children in the hospital, but also with their siblings at home.
This humble man, who talks about this project as a success, always refers to it as “OUR SUCCESS” because he witnessed so much love and support from so many—more than he could ever imagine. Bears seem to come from everywhere. In some instances, individuals and organizations purchase the bears, then donate them; in others, they simply write a check for Tom to purchase more. Many local businesses discount or donate stuffed animals, 2 of all kinds, to ensure that there is never a time when a child must go without the comfort of a stuffed friend.