Plump, patterned bellies, shiny black eyes peering underneath hats, a finely-stitched vest embellished with buttons, these are some of the features Grace Russell, HopeWest Volunteer, gives her memory bears.

Beyond their cuddly appearance, these bears have a very special meaning to the families receiving them. The bears originate as old t-shirts or favorite blouses of HopeWest hospice patients. It’s Grace’s mission to give these articles of clothing new life, striving to make each bear as unique as the individuals the bears are made in memory of.

Having lost her own mother at an early age, Grace understands wanting to have something to remember loved ones who have passed, much like the bears she creates for families to cherish.