Military mom creates teddy bears from fallen soldiers' uniforms, gives them to grieving children

Published: Friday, May 30 2014 4:05 p.m. MDT

Screenshot, CNN

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Teddy bears have comforted children for many years, but military mom Lisa Freeman has taken the stuffed animal's meaning to a new level.

Freeman, whose son Matthew was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, spends her days sewing teddy bears from fallen soldiers' uniforms for grieving family members.

"I don't know about big, but I think I'm making a difference," Freeman told CNN.

Freeman gave the first "Matthew Bear" to the late Shannon Chihuahua's sister and nephews in March.

"When my kids are grown and older, it's something that we'll always have," Jessica Chihuahua told CNN.

The teddy bears are just one part of an enterprise Freeman created called "The Matthew Freeman Project."

The project is a not-for-profit charitable organization, and its purpose is to support worldwide education "in order to promote communities of promise, prosperity and peace," according to its website.

Two days prior to Matthew Freeman's death, he called to tell his mother that the children in Afghanistan wanted pens and paper more than food and water. He asked if Lisa would send him school supplies so he could give them to the students.

Since then, The Matthew Freeman Project has sent more than 6 tons of school supplies to children in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Huffington Post.

"It is the vision of The Matthew Freeman Project to go into those classrooms in that part of the world and teach something other than hatred and hopelessness," Freeman said in a YouTube video.

In addition, the project gives a "sibling scholarship" to students who've lost their siblings in combat.

The majority of the funding for the scholarship comes from the annual "Matthew Freeman 5K Run for Peace."

The scholarship is given "to acknowledge the struggles and emotional pain when dealing with the loss of a sibling," according to The Matthew Freeman Project.

Megan Marsden Christensen is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in communication.

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