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After a teddy bear was stolen, a wave of kindness followed

Members of the community sent dozens of replacements. The family donated all but one to the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas.

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio family turned their own loss into a gain for the community after a treasured toy was stolen.

A teddy bear is an object of comfort. Maria José Escobar hoped to offer that to her five-year-old son, Jens.

"His dad and I gave it to him whenever we got divorced, to help him to process the change in not being in one house with the two of us anymore," Escobar said.

The bear came with him on things like family trips and going camping with his dad.

"They went camping. And he was just having a really hard time falling asleep,” Escobar said. “So, he decided to leave the campsite. And just put him in the car and went back to his place. And then when they went back the next day, someone had taken absolutely everything."

Jens was heartbroken. He asked to post a video to YouTube, pleading for the bear's return.

"When I went to go film him, he - it was heartbreaking because he could not get the words out," Escobar said.

Instead, she posted the video to Instagram and TikTok. She was flooded with responses - some offering a replacement. At first, Escobar was reluctant.

"I had said no, like, that's not a good idea because he needs to figure out how to be okay without the bear."

Her work as a Holistic Life and Health Coach had her seeing the theft as an opportunity to help her son build a life-skill.

“I'd say about 80% of my work involves grief in some way, shape, or form,” Escobar said. “Grief is more about the loss, it's an idea that is ending. Something that is you think is going to go a certain way, and it doesn't.

But she relented when she realized the bears could be used for something else.

"Why don't we use that as an opportunity to turn around and donate those bears to kids who are going through a really heavy loss?" she said.

Jens and his mom gave all but one of the 25 bears they received to the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas. In the process, while she had been trying to teach her son a lesson about grief, she says he ended up with a different lesson all together.

"For every one bad person that there is in the world, there are 20, 30, 40 good people that want to see you smile," she said.

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