A broad spectrum of individuals, organizations and businesses were honored by the Mountain Bear Fan Club with a Mexican buffet luncheon and awards ceremony Nov. 5, at the Episcopal Conference Center. First responder representatives, businesses and individuals who rendered aid during recent area fires were awarded certificates of appreciation and individuals were recognized for their community service during the 21st “Angels and Heroes Amongst Us” celebration.
First responder organizations recognized were: CalFire, California Highway Patrol, Central California Animal Disaster Team, Madera County Sheriff’s Office and Citizens on Patrol, Red Cross (Madera, Mariposa and Merced Counties) Chapter and Sierra National Forest Firefighters-Bass Lake Ranger District.
Businesses recognized were: Mountain Feed and Nursery, Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply, Steve’s Pet Shop, and the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.
Individuals honored were: Fresno Flats Historical Park caretakers Laura and Bill Huddleson, Griswold Mountain Detachment No. 121 of the Marine Corps League chaplain and route manager of Toys for Tots Rev. Richard Lamontagne, Animal Rescue of Fresno volunteer Diane McDonough who also fosters dogs and cats, and North Fork Auxiliary Fire Department and Madera County Sheriff’s Citizens on Patrol volunteers Dave and Sue Myers.
Each individual received an angel bear award festooned with objects representative of the volunteer work they perform.
The Mountain Bear Fan Club, the Mountain Area den of the international organization Good Bears of the World, serves the mountain community by providing teddy bears (and other stuffed animals) to the urgent care center, volunteer fire departments, shelters, churches, the California Highway Patrol, CDF, nursing homes, schools, the local Outpouring event, Breakfast with Santa (450 bears are donated), the Oakhurst California Elks Lodge, and individuals and families who need a bit of comfort, according to Marlene Thomas, vice president of the local and international organizations.
“Chairbear” (president) Barbara Mattice has been a member of the group for 23 years.
“I was new to the community and they were having a good time and I’m service oriented,” was the reason she joined the club.
The local group meets the second and fourth Monday of each month in the Library Community Room for the care and feeding or refurbishing of the bears.
“We stitch, brush and put bows on the donated bears which have been machine washed and air dried,” said member Terry Killingsworth.
The group donates some 10,000 bears each year and decorate Christmas trees with the cuddly critters. Those trees may be seen at: Bank of America, Yosemite Bank, Helping Hands, the Oakhurst Healthcare & Wellness Centre and a cancer center in Fresno, according to 11-year member Beverly Gordon.
For membership information or those with stuffed animals to donate may contact Barbara Mattice, (559) 448-7178.