Programs & Services

Programs and Services

Hospice Information

Through donations and sales, Penny Bears and our Penny Bear’s Gift of Love books have been provided for Hospice organizations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Florida, where they help staff members and volunteers offer a special hug for patients and families in their care. Penny Bears and our books are also used in Hospice-sponsored children’s bereavement programs and camp experiences.


We provide Penny Bears, as well as writing journals and activity books created by illustrator Michiko Eager, to shelters in Massachusetts and Florida. To complete the circle of giving, families and individuals living in the shelters decorate carrying bags given with Penny Bears to others in need.

Assisted Living & Nursing Home Residences


Participating in hands-on projects with our bears enables otherwise healthy senior residents and the memory impaired discover a continuing sense of purpose by helping us lift the spirits of others

Community Outreach Programs

 Therapists and counselors use Penny Bears with their clients to encourage self-esteem, offer hope following tragedy, and to help develop trust in themselves and others.

 Family members, friends and neighbors, ministers, doctors, teachers, classmates, emergency responders, and sometimes anonymous, caring people provide Penny Bears to help individuals and families in crisis as a way to show they care. A bear’s gentle presence helps ease fear and offers the promise of hope.

Our Circles of Hope outreach program offer encouragement for those whose lives have been touched by cancer, Parkinson’s disease, caregiving responsiblities , or who are moving through a time of bereavement. click here for more information.

The Penny Bear Friendship Club school program was created to promote respect, kindness, and the importance of building meaningful friendships among people of all ages. What began as a true-life act of kindness by a small boy, coupled with a young girl’s bereavement journey following the loss of an adult friend, has become a wonderful teaching and healing tool. For more information, see below.

 School, Scouting and religious classes learn how to help others through what is often a first volunteering experience.

 We welcome adults and young people challenged with learning disabilities and other special needs.

 We have encouraged families as they courageously struggle with turning tragic personal losses into healing outreach and awareness. Our “Hunter Bear” is an example of a Marblehead family trying to create some kind of meaning out of an automobile tragedy that took the life of their son. Along with a committed group of local high school students and his family, we are partnered in a safe-driving-awareness program at our local high school. Please click here to learn more about his and other special family stories.

Camps for Critically Ill Children

Providing Penny Bears and writing journals writing journals has been challenging, rewarding experiences for our volunteers. We have offered critically and emotionally ill or grieving children in New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Florida have received one of the best kinds of medicine…love and a smile wrapped in a bear hug.

Our most challenging opportunity spanned a three-year period, when our bears and illustrated personal writing journals helped thousands of children attending actor Paul Newman and Charles Woods’ Double “H” Hole in the Woods Ranch in New York State. Our successful and positive multi-state volunteer effort has been transitioned to our former camp laision, who lives in New York and who was a member of the camp’s volunteer nursing staff. She has now expanded our original concept and created her own very similar projects on behalf of “Double H” campers.


Raising Awareness and Supporting Families

We are honored that our Penny Bears are used as opportunities to encourage people who struggle with difficult challenges to heal themselves and to create hope for others. The following programs are a brief example of the wide-ranging ways we have helped individuals and other organizations.

Among many saddened communities we have helped over the years, Penny Bears were sent to families following the Columbine High School tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, in the aftermath of hurricanes Wilma, Katrina and Rita, and after the coal mine tragedies in West Virginia.

Sponsored a Penny Bear “Kids-Walking-for-Kids” walkathon fundraiser to help the New England Medical Center’s Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, MA purchase new play equipment and staff the pediatric oncology/hematology play room

Supported a neighboring community’s “Seeds of Hope” meals and sheltering program to raise awareness about people who are homeless, hungry and poor

Assisted a young local friend in his dedicated effort to raise research funds and educate people about Marfan Syndrome in memory of his younger sister, who died at age four from complications of the connective tissue disorder. (

In partnership with the volunteer “Hope for Haiti” program in Naples, FL, we have donated hundreds of bears to an orphanage in Haiti.

Partnered with staff members in creating the “Hug-a-Bear Club” at Youville Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, Cambridge, MA – a program designed to provide emotional support for children whose family member has cancer and is a patient in the hospital’s oncology unit. The program’s purpose is to facilitate communication between a patient/family member and their child/children about dealing with the uncertainties, hopes and fears that arise as the course of the adult’s illness unfolds.

Sent Penny Bears and books to Ryan’s Place, a nonprofit grief center that provides emotional support for grieving children, teens, young adults and their families in Goshen, Indiana

“Heart-to-Heart Fund” – an organization founded by two young mothers to help families of children undergoing cardiac treatments at The New England Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children, Boston, MA. We provided journals, activity books, and centerpiece bears for fundraising events.

Participated in a special activities workshop for the S.O.F.T. organization (Support Organization For Trisomy 18, 13 and other related chromosomal disorders). S.O.F.T. is a nonprofit volunteer organization offering support for parents who have a child with this particular chromosome disorder, and education to families and professionals interested in the care of these children.(

 MS Home – Collier County, FL – an organization started by two young mothers living with Multiple Sclerosis that is dedicated to filling the needs and improving the quality of life of families affected by an MS diagnosis

 Project HELP, Naples, FL Crisis center hotline and bereavement support groups for people coping with all phases of complicated loss (murder, suicide, etc.)

 Penny Bears have helped participants in rehabilitation programs for stroke patients.

The Penny Bear Friendship Club

The Penny Bear Friendship Club school program was created to promote respect, kindness, and the importance of building meaningful friendships among people of all ages. What began as a true-life act of kindness by a small boy, coupled with a young girl’s bereavement journey following the loss of an adult friend, has become a wonderful teaching and healing tool.

When 6-year-old Emery (on the left in the photo) remembers how alone and afraid he felt his first few days at school and during the after-hours activities he also remembers the big, welcoming, reassuring hug he received from another child in the class…his new friend, Thadius
(on the right).

Wanting to share with other children and adults just how much that initial act of friendship meant was the catalyst for Emery’s mother to help her son write about the importance of showing kindness to one another. As she wrote his words down in story form, Emery drew illustrations… and together they presented Emery and Thadius and the Big Hug to his kindergarten teacher.

When the story was shown to Penny Wigglesworth, she decided it would be used as part of a new friendship campaign that the Penny Bear Company could begin in local elementary schools. It is at this point that the true personal experiences of two unrelated children converged into the creation of The Penny Bear Friendship Club.


Fourth-grade student Shayna Fratini (second from left in photo) was very sad when her best adult friend, Caroline Ross,died. (Caroline’s picture appears in the Circle of Hope page.) Although not related through family ties, Shayna and Caroline were as close as an aunt and niece would be! Caroline’s husband gave Shayna the Penny Bear that had been Caroline’s companion during her final illness. Shayna took the bear to her school classroom and explained what had happened to her friend, and how it made her feel.
Shayna and friends

Friendship Club

Penny Wigglesworth combined the impact of both
 Emery and Shana’s stories, and together with Shana and her mother (and a basket of Penny Bears and pledge sheets), they began introducing the Penny Bear Friendship Club to other elementary school classes. The children each prepare a bear, make a greeting card, and decorate a paper carrying bag. The finished bears are then donated to ill children in hospitals.

At the end of the activity, the children read a friendship pledge together and receive honorary membership cards in the Penny Bear Friendship ClubEach class is given a Friendship Penny Bear to keep in their classroom as a reminder of how the students can make positive choices about how to treat one another.

Friendship Club Pledge