A bear to make you feel better

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
A tag on the bottom of the bear distingushes it as being from Bears From Behind Bars.

Boyle first responders receive 400 stuffed animals from inmate program

The Boyle County Sheriff’s Office received a donation of unique teddy bears recently: about 400 teddy bears in all from a program that uses inmates to make each by hand.

“They called and asked if we’d be interested in them — sometimes people bring (stuffed animals) in — so we said yes,” said Sheriff Derek Robbins.

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They didn’t expect 400 bears, he said.

Bears From Behind Bars, a program from Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, was created in 2014 as a way for inmates to give back to the community, according to information from the facility.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
About 400 bears were donated to the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office from Bears from Behind Bars.

There are eight inmates employed by the program, who produce about 100 bears a month and have created more than 4,000 since the program began. Bears From Behind Bars are given to first-responder agencies and social-service programs for children they may come into contact with.

Robbins said his agency didn’t know that Bears From Behind Bars existed. It fills a need, he said, because they aren’t allowed to purchase stuffed animals within the sheriff’s budget.

He said they use the animals when they have to go to a house with children.

“Sometimes we show up and they don’t know what’s going to happen,” Robbins said. 

A lot of times, the visits are not for good reasons. 

“It helps create a positive relationship between kids and law enforcement,” he said.

A fact sheet from the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex said, “The program not only helps the children that receive the teddy bears, but also teaches inmates about empathy, kindness and giving back to others … The inmates take great pride in their work and enjoy hearing about where the teddy bears are going.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Magistrate John Caywood holds up a teddy bear, one of about 400 donated to the Boyle County Sheriff’s Department.

Robbins said they decided to share the bears, taking some to the Danville Police and Fire departments, Boyle County EMS and the Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center; all agencies that deal with children facing scary situations.

No state money is used for the production of the handmade teddy bears, but donations are accepted.


Bears From Behind Bars is a program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Any first-responder agency interested in receiving bears or anyone interested in donating to the project, which receives no state funds, can contact Christine Kurliec, bear coordinator, at (502) 222-0365 or (502) 222-0363.