All she wants for Christmas is a teddy bear.
But not just any old store-bought bear.
Rather, Melissa Woodard is searching for a treasured teddy bear, a keepsake that was made by hand, dressed in some of the clothes once worn by a toddler who drowned in Deltona in 2014, and given to the boy’s mother as a means of comfort.
Woodard used to care for the boy and was like a grandmother to 20-month-old Kaleb Hanscom. The toddler died when he slipped away from a family gathering at his aunt’s house and got through a hole in a pool fence that the family dog had dug up, WESH 2 News reported.
Woodard had the teddy bear made for the boy’s mother and presented it to her shortly after Kaleb’s death.
“I wanted to have something for the mother so that when she missed him, she could hold on to it and feel like she was close to him and feel like he was there,” Woodard told the station.
Kaleb’s mother stored her son’s belongings in a Sanford, Florida, storage unit. According to WESH, she ran into some financial issues and the contents of the storage unit were auctioned off before she could retrieve the bear.
WESH’s Claire Metz, who reported the story, told the Miami Herald that she came into contact with Woodard via a post Woodard made on a Deland County Community Watch group she follows on Facebook. Woodard reached out to Metz and they met Thursday.
“She has not found the bear yet,” Metz said Friday in an email to the Herald. Woodard hopes that whoever bought the contents of the unit hears of her search and might still have the bear. She’d like to give it back to Kaleb’s mother for Christmas.
“If I could get the bear back, at least she would have a little piece to hold on to, and she would have some of Kaleb with her,” Woodard told WESH. “It’s one of the last things we have of him.”