Rescue Bears Experience with Erin Fountain of Institute for Positive Mental Health

Posted & filed under Blog, Youth & Teen.

Join our Junior Justice League on December 8 at 3:30pm CST for a Rescue Bear-Making Experience with Erin Fountain, Executive Director of Institute for Positive Mental Health (IPMH). Register here to join our live session.

The Institute for Positive Mental Health (IPMH) is a 501(c)(3) for-impact community mental health organization. They were founded in 1994 and have been known for many years throughout the South and West side for their EXCEL Job Training and Work First Program, their Entrepreneurship Program developing holistic body care products, and as makers of Rescue Bears from mismatched socks. We partnered with Erin last year for a fantastic bear-making program in person – so we’re so honored to be able to partner with the Institute for Positive Mental Health again to host a community-wide virtual Rescue Bear-Making Experience.

“We will take an old, lonely, forgotten sock and turn it into an adorable Rescue Bear,” Erin shared. “ The purpose of the Bear Making Experience is to give people hope during difficult times. Rescue bears are individually crafted and designed to demonstrate THAT and HOW we give purpose and meaning to our world. Once created, Rescue Bears are gifted to people who need a little something to hold onto. They also make a wonderful personalized and unique gift. No two bears are ever alike and there’s no wrong way to make a Bear.” 

Erin will guide us through the steps to make our Rescue Bears, offering tips, answering questions, and sharing ideas to help us make them unique and special. This is a program that is perfect to do as a family, especially when using crafting supplies like scissors and glue guns. Due to the small pieces, Rescue Bears are recommended for children ages 8 and up, especially middle schoolers and teens. Some adult supervision is recommended for young people, especially while using scissors and glue guns. 

Grab & Go Program Kits

We have created free Grab & Go Program Kits to pick up in our Great Green Box at the library, while supplies last, available starting November 30.

They will include: 2 socks, stuffing, mini-rubber bands, googly eyes, a card (to write a note to the person you’ll gift your bear to), and directions.

You’ll need to find these supplies at home: scissors, sharpie, hot glue gun with glue sticks OR fabric glue OR needle & thread, other crafting accessories such as pompons, buttons, feathers, fabric, etc.

You can always make a bear using the supplies you have at home and adapt the directions below accordingly. 

You can join us live on December 8 or you can use this post with our Grab & Go Kit to do this activity at your convenience. You can start by watching these videos.

How to Make a Rescue Bear

We have provided two socks, so you can plan to keep your first bear. This is the bear you are experimenting on and learning how to make a rescue bear. There’s no ONE way to make a bear and no two will be alike. Large socks make large bears; baby socks make baby bears. The heel of the sock will become the face of the bear so select your sock with that in mind. Most accessories are made from sock parts as well. There is no sewing involved. Recycled parts and pieces are valuable accessories.

Adapt these directions to best express your vision for your Rescue Bear. Due to the small pieces, Rescue Bears are recommended for ages 8 and up. Some adult supervision is recommended for young people, especially while using scissors and glue guns.

Select your sock. Orient it so the heel is the head. Put a little bit of fluff in the two bottom corners to make the feet. Wrap a rubber band around each foot.

Fill the rest of the body with fluff (but not too much). Take some fluff and push it out on the sides of the sock to make the arms. Wrap a rubber band around each arm.

Put a rubber band around the bottom of the heel to make a neck.

Fill the heel with fluff.

Wrap a rubber band around the head. (Rubber bands may be a bit fragile, so be careful not to pull them too tightly.) 

Cut the extra sock off but leave enough sock to make ears. Cut the extra sock into circles (ears) using sewing scissors. Put rubber bands around both of them. 

Put fluff in the ears. Put the fluff in with scissors and then glue it shut with a glue gun, fabric glue, or hand-sewing. 

Use a glue gun or fabric glue to affix the eyes. 

Draw on paws and the face with a sharpie.

Using the extra sock material, you can make a hat or scarf. Use the crafting accessories as desired. Be creative. You can even make a personalized facemask for your bear! 

Make plans to safely (think contactless) share your completed Rescue Bear with someone who could use it. Use the card to write a message to the person you’re gifting the bear to.

We’d love to see what you have created and how you’ve shared your bear with others to help them. 

Share pictures/video of your Rescue Bears with us on social media or via email at