Local woman spreads cheer with teddy bearsWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
School bus driver Christina Moomey was in a rush to be on time for her second job grooming dogs. Just as she was about to refuel for the next day, another bus radioed. The driver asked, “Can I please go ahead of you because I have a trip?”
All Moomey wanted to do was get on with her day. “Why did I answer that radio?” she recalls grumbling to herself that day. But she parked her bus and hurried off to her other job, letting her co-worker fill up in her place.
The next day — a cold, dark January morning — Moomey arrived early to refuel. When she stepped onto her bus, she found something that would transform her life. On her seat was a gift bag filled with candy bars and a card saying, “Thank you for letting that other bus go ahead of you.” And her gas tank was full to boot.
Moomey said she felt incredibly touched.
“This changed my whole day. I just thought about it all day long,” she said.
She said the gesture sparked something inside her. She wanted to share her good feeling with others and inspire people to be kind to one another. She pondered for weeks until she came up with two teddy bears, Mr. Ted E. Bearynice and his wife Mrs. Faith Bearynice.
Moomey taught herself how to sew the bears and has designed a fabric. Each bear is customized and she pairs them with a basket filled with candy or soaps. Each person who receives a bear keeps it for a little while, then refills the basket and passes it on to someone else.
“It’s almost like ‘Pay it forward,’ but it’s something different,” Moomey said. “If you drive around on the road, people are mean. When I was a kid everyone said ‘Thank you’ and ‘Have a nice day.’ I think we’ve gotten away from that. We used to know our neighbors. People don’t know their neighbors anymore. This was all going through my mind when thinking up the bear idea.”
Moomey created her logo and trademark, “Ted E. Bearynice: A Bear to Share,” and sells the bear/basket for $49.99. She has sold to a group of nurses, a cancer caregiver and a group for Relay for Life, among others. Mrs. Bearynice is dedicated to cancer fighters and survivors and their caregivers.
“It’s not about what you put in the basket; it’s the thought that goes with the basket,” Moomey said. “I’m selling them little by little, but I would love to open a shop and put them all over the country, just put him out and let people be nice and just have fun with him and put a smile on someone’s face and change their day.”
Moomey, who works for Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools in Ottawa County, would like to change the world one bear at a time. She donated four bears to her employer, including one to the athletic department, so students can learn the Mr. Bearynice message. She also donated a Mr. Bearynice to the bus garage where morale was low after the district made cuts and drivers had to rebid their routes. She gave another bear to TV hostess and comedienne, Ellen DeGeneres.
“I tip my hat to Chris Moomey for coming up with a very innovative idea to keep people motivated,” said Benton-Carroll-Salem superintendent Guy Parmigian. “And those bears. … When someone finds them on their desk they do bring a smile to our faces. I give her credit for stepping up and putting something positive out there at a time when we needed some positives.”
Moomey said she had an inkling who her secret angel was that cold January morning. Jeannie Behnken, a longtime bus driver, likes to do random kind things for people and has been doing it for years. Leaving the gift bag for Moomey was just part of her nature; she had no idea what it would spark.
“I think it’s awesome. I’m her biggest cheerleader,” Behnken said. “I don’t take any credit. She came up with this all on her own. … I just want to do nice things for people without them knowing who did it.”
“I was just doing my job and going to work every day,” Moomey said. “We just muddle through our jobs and don’t look up. This is a way for people to be nice to each other again. I live out in the country and the city is even worse. People don’t look at each other anymore. Wouldn’t it be a better place if we could all just get along? If I could just make a few people happy?”
For more information on the bears or to contact Moomey, visit her website www.mrbearynice.com.