ENCINITAS, Calif. — A group in California is sending hundreds of teddy bears to students and families in Uvalde, Texas as the community continues to grieve the loss of 19 students and two teachers killed in a school shooting.
Marcella Johnson, Founder of The Comfort Cub, said the stuffed animals are weighted, therapeutic teddy bears designed to help people cope with trauma and loss.
"It causes your heart rate to slow down, your breathing to slow down, and gives you an overall sense of calm," Johnson said.
Johnson created The Comfort Cub after dealing with the emotional and physical pain of losing her newborn son.
"My heart really hurt, and my arms ached and I found when I put a weighed object in my arms, the aching went away," she said.
A total of 710 bears will be given to the students and teachers at Robb Elementary School, as well as the families of the children killed in the school shooting.
Sarah Word is one of the people who helped prepare the bears for shipment.
"My empathy goes through the roof because I do know what those kids who survived are going through," Word said.
Word is a survivor of the 2017 mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. She received a teddy bear of her own after the shooting.
"[The bear] definitely helped with the nightmares at night, the trauma, the panic attacks, the fear," Word said.
Johnson hopes the bear will support others in the same way and provide a lasting hug to those who need it most.
"I know that pain and heartache, and I think that people want to know that they're not alone, and they like to know that people care," Johnson said.
Each bear comes with a personalized note.
This story was first reported by Nia Watson at KGTV in San Diego.