One year, when I asked if everyone had a favorite teddy bear, one little boy did not raise his hand. When I asked him about it, he told me that he had never had a bear. He lived in a homeless shelter so I called and left a message with the director of the shelter later in the day. I asked her to please return my call and let me know if the child did not in fact own a teddy bear as he stated. When she called me back, she confirmed that his mother said that not only did he not own one, he had never had one. She was a single parent with two other children under the age of five and was struggling to even feed her children.
That afternoon after school, I went out and bought the cutest bear I could find that a little boy might like. I put it in a large gift bag and brought it to my Principal's office the next morning. I asked if he could call the child to the office and tell him a package had been left for him anonymously. I had 24 other students and if I had shown favoritism to one, no matter what the reason, the others would have felt slighted.
I brought the child to the Principal's office and he looked wide eyed at the package. The Principal told him that it had been left in the office with his name on it. The child lifted the bear out of the bag like it was a precious gem and hugged it tightly. It touched our hearts to see how much pleasure such a simple gesture meant to this child. The child beamed as he returned to the classroom with me and spent the rest of the day showing his bear to his classmates. I don't think he ever stopped smiling that day because he was so proud of his new bear.
I never saw the child without his bear for the rest of the year. It came to school with him and went home with him. He took such care of it considering his age and would lovingly snuggle up beside it during rest time.
He moved away from our school at the end of the year but he will always have a special place in my heart. I wonder if he still has that bear.