Inmates build teddy bears to give back to KY kids

OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Making a difference from behind bars. WDRB went inside the state prison near La Grange where inmates are giving back with teddy bears.

"Life behind bars is difficult. It's hard, you miss your family, your loved ones," Detaurus Bell said. 

Bell is three years into his 32-year sentence. "Made a lot of bad choices growing up in my life. Drug charges, criminal activities."

Every day, he and other inmates at Luther Luckett come to a designated room to make teddy bears. "I liked teddy bears as a child, but I wasn't always able to always get teddy bears because difficult money situation."

Everyone has a job on the assembly line, a role he admits didn't come easy. "The hardest thing is tying the bows. It takes a lot of practice to do that. It took me like three weeks to learn how to tie the bows because they have to be in a specific way because if you don't tie them right, they don't look good."

They'll make about 100 stuffed animals a month. They're toys that kids in need across Kentucky can call their own.

"Building these bears, it comes from our hearts," Randall Hickey said. "We put our time and our joy into these bears."

"You wouldn't think something as simple as a teddy bear would have the impact it does on these guys, but they want to know, 'did they like the bear? Did it make the kids happy?'" said Scott Jordan, Warden for the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex.

Jordan said it's programs like this that are part of the road to success.

"Ninety percent of these guys are coming home at some time, at some point; our job with Kentucky Department of Corrections and Luther Luckett is to return to society something much better than we received," Jordan said.

However, for now, the inmates said it's about giving back, maybe, for the first time.

"It's very therapeutic," Bell said. "Sometimes I don't have to come to work and I just come anyway because it gives me a peace of mind, to know that I'm doing something good for once," Bell said.

Any organization or group that serves as first responders or cares for children in crisis or displaced children can call (502) 222-0365, extension 4501 for a teddy bear. Other programs include Shakespeare Behind Bars, college courses, Braille and Paws Behind Bars. 

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