Bringing Comfort From Tragedy

In 2009 Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan. At just 29, Freeman had already accomplished a great deal. He was an Eagle Scout, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Marine pilot and recently married to his high school sweetheart during a surprise visit home shortly before his death. His sudden death dealt a serious blow to his family and friends, but his memory inspired his mother, Lisa Freeman, to honor her son's life by helping others.

Out of the tragedy of his death, The Matthew Freeman Project was created to carry out good works in honor of Freeman's life of service. Part of the project's mission is to provide comfort to families like the Freemans, who are struggling with the loss of a family member in the U.S. armed forces. Freeman came upon the idea of turning fallen soldiers' uniforms into teddy bears, dubbed Matthew Bears, to give children something tangible and reassuring that belonged to their deceased loved ones.

The demand for Matthew Bears is heartbreakingly high, but word of the mission has spread and, according to a June 3 post on The Matthew Freeman Project's Facebook page, people are stepping forward to help. Inspired by the impact of the Matthew Bears, people are donating time, money and bear-making expertise to keep providing grieving families with one more way to heal.