First person: Clovis couple provides gift bears

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Lona and Dwight Waldo have spent the last 12 years buying bears at yard sales and cleaning them for nursing home residents.

Kevin Wilson

Dwight and Lona Waldo’s summers and holidays are stuffed.

The Clovis couple has, for the last 12 years, donated teddy bears to rest home residents for the holidays. Communities they serve include Clovis, Portales, Farwell and Muleshoe.

Becoming a couple: Dwight: I’ve been here since ’71. I came here to manage KTMY, which is now KCLV.

Lona: I taught school here. I’m a retired school teacher. I taught school here for ever and ever and ever. I was raised in Portales and that area.

We actually met years ago in Albuquerque. We were friends there. After we both got divorces, we never thought we’d see each other again. We met again after Dwight came back here and I had moved back from Albuquerque and was teaching here. We ran into each other and we became better friends.

Taking root: Dwight had a friend in Amarillo whose mother was in an Alzheimer’s unit. She carried around this Cabbage Patch doll all the time. We’ve been doing garage sales forever. They knew we did garage sales so they said, “If you find some dolls, get some for the residents.” We thought, if it works there, it could work here.

The process: Lona: We go to garage sales, every weekend, all summer long. That’s what we go for; we look for stuffed bears. We’re selective. We don’t buy crummy-looking bears. We want something nice.

Dwight: We try to get bears that are baby-sized. The ones that we get that are smaller, we take them to the Lighthouse Mission.

Lona: We find them, we take them home, we wash them, we dry them, we comb them, we brush them. Put it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. They come out beautifully.

Dwight: If there are spots on them, we’ll spray them with Spray N’ Wash first.

Lona: Then we bag them up. Our church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, goes with us at Christmas every year. We’ve got a whole bunch of bags stacked at the church; 600 is a lot of bears. We sing carols and then we distribute the bears. We especially like it when we have a group of kids that go with us. The interaction with the children and the residents is a beautiful thing to see.

Getting a rep: Dwight: Lona has a cousin in the nursing home in Farwell. We took bears up, visited him. Next March, we went down to Floyd for the Jamboree. We saw a guy in a wheel chair. He said, Lona, I didn’t get my bear.

Lona: No, “Hi,” no, “How are you.”

Dwight: We went out to the car and got him one.

Lona: What we think is so exciting is that two people have been able to do this. We just want everybody to know it can be done. You don’t have to have an organization, you don’t have to be part of anything.

Dwight: There are all kinds of needs to a nursing home. They need shaving stuff, shampoo.

Lona: A lot of people there don’t have family left. It’s a pretty lonely world out there, and this kind of helps.