To Better the Man

Alpha Sig flyerA couple years ago, Ian, one of my son’s best friends, used to sit in my kitchen telling me how fraternities weren’t all about partying and mayhem. He spoke of philanthropy in flowery words filled with conviction. An excellent spinner of the words, I listened to his spiel with a smile and allowed him a slight victory this time. His examples were valid and respect worthy. Still, I wondered as a skeptical and protective mother does.

The years my son and his friends spent in my kitchen, eating and telling their boy stories were the most fun season of my life thus far. It was easy. I felt like they always blessed me more than I ever did for them, even then. They went off to college, and one in the Navy. Sometimes, they come back for visits, and tell their stories again, in my kitchen. Those times are sweet gifts.

Last year, Ian’s fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi Gamma Zeta Chapter at Bowling Green State University, invited the ladies of SGM to bring our Comfort Bear supplies so they could help us stuff bears for mothers with grieving hearts. We gathered in the middle of their frat house and worked. It was such a blessing. I’ll admit, my heart softened a lot that day toward the idea of a college fraternity. All that I love about grace and way our Jesus accepts us as we are, well making our bears in the middle of a frat house…I think that sounds about right.

Last month, when Ian called me to ask if the gentlemen from Alpha Sig could host a fundraiser/service project for us, we were thrilled with the idea. We would set up in the middle of the student union and students could donate $5 to stuff a Comfort Bear for a grieving mother. So, not only would they be raising money for SGM, but also making bears! The boys worked and planned the event, making beautiful flyers and precious ribbons, all themselves. Those who couldn’t stuff a bear due to time constraints, could donate $2 for a ribbon. Ribbons made with the hands of these fraternity boys. The SGM Comfort Bear Team of six ladies worked hard, as well, cutting and sewing 125 bear shells to be stuffed in less than a month’s time! So grateful to the dedicated and hard-working volunteers at SGM. You ladies rock!

ians ribbon

This is what 125 unstuffed Comfort Bears looks like:
unstuffed bears

We were so excited for Tuesday’s event as Lynette and I loaded the van with stuffing and bears!
stuffing and bears

We arrived to find the gentlemen of Alpha Sig well prepared.
alpha sig boys

Students stopped to inquire about the enticing cute bears, and I listened as college boys explained to each one that these bears would be offered in packets sent by Sufficient Grace Ministries, to comfort grieving moms who have lost a child in pregnancy or at birth. My heart swelled with pride and a myriad of other emotions as I listened to Ian speak words that many seasoned adults would ignore listening to, much less have the courage to speak. Because people don’t want to know that sometimes babies die. Some members of my own family do not come to SGM or speak the names of my children. But the boys from my kitchen know their names. The faces of the students changed when they heard that these bears had such a somber purpose, and one by one, many dug into their wallets to donate $5 to stuff a Comfort Bear.

The managers of Starbucks came to ask about our setup and donated $40 after the gentlemen explained about SGM.
zachwork

three

sweet

quality control

pedro

more stuffing

letters

lauren

group

girls

girls stuffing

danny

cuilin

boys

boys sewing

audrey

anthony2

anthony

 

my hannah
Above is my son’s beautiful girlfriend, Hannah, a student of BGSU and fellow SGM volunteer.

This is my Ian, the young man who used his position as philanthropy chair of Alpha Sigma Phi to make this amazing Build a Bear for Moms event possible. His incredible efforts and hard work, along with his team of brothers and the generous students and staff of BGSU earned $900 for SGM and stuffed 85 Comfort Bears to be sent around the world in Dreams of You care packages!!!! I love him like a son, and could not be more honored by him or proud of him for what he accomplished on Tuesday, and for his willing and beautiful heart to do it.

my ian

The motto of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity is to Better the Man. On Tuesday, I would say these brave young men took giant steps toward being better men than most. The courage to show compassion, to look on the pain of another and offer something…even if just acknowledgment, to look even when it hurts or makes you feel emotion, the willingness to stand in the gap with another, to lay down your own comfort for someone else, to speak while others remain silent…that is the making of a better man. Those are the kind of men worth following.

Tears fell from my grateful cheeks as I struggled to find the words to convey to these gentlemen what their efforts meant for me and every other parent who has said goodbye to their sweet baby. I still can’t find the words, or stop the tears. The beauty of their hearts and their willingness to stand with us awhile, to offer all they could…well how can a mama find words for what that means to her heart? The ladies of Sufficient Grace Ministries love the gentlemen of Alpha Sigma Phi. And, you boys are welcome in my kitchen anytime. You will always have a place in my heart. Thank you is not nearly enough.

Bereaved parents, this day, the students of BGSU stood with you.
group pic build a bear day

*You can read more thoughts on this day and a bit about another Alpha Sig member named Zeke on my Still Standing post.

More pictures of the event are displayed here.

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