Bears for ‘Bama’s children

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Although Santa has quite a few months ahead of him before his annual flight across the globe, First Lady Dianne Bentley is acting as a substitute with the help of one local interior designer.

This Christmas, the John Blue Hill House (next door to the Alabama Governor’s Mansion) will be decorated with a sole focus on Alabama’s children, and the children’s room upstairs will be designed by Greenville resident Vesta Taylor, owner of Vesta Taylor Interiors.

The room will feature fluffy white teddy bears — named Kiley Bear, to be specific — and they will be on display during tours of the house and then donated to a group of deserving children.

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Taylor said that more conventional decorating options couldn’t adequately convey the importance of Christmas for children.

“Christmas ornaments are everywhere, and people think they’re pretty and nice, but we pack them up when everyone leaves; although they’re convenient and reusable, they only serve an aesthetic purpose,” Taylor said. “But the bears give a real meaning for Christmas. They become a gift. The thought that items purchased by people in the state of Alabama are able to be a part of Christmas at the mansion is a wonderful thing. Now we’re able to actually do something for Christmas for needy kids — kids that otherwise might not get a Christmas present.”

While the idea to use teddy bears is Taylor’s, she said that the inspiration came from Bentley and her love for children.

Bentley recited some startling statistics to Taylor that drove home the gravity of the plight facing several underprivileged children around the state.

“She was an inspiration not only to my work, but to me,” Taylor said. “When I heard those things from her, and how much that she and the governor are doing to help our state, that’s how the idea came into my mind.”

Kiley Bears are $10 each, and purchasers will have their name tagged onto the bear’s ear.

Taylor expressed an interest in simplifying the donation process, so local supporters are asked to visit First Citizens Bank (475 Greenville Bypass) via the drive-through and put $10 into the “Season’s for Christ” account.

In addition to Greenville, other cities in the surrounding area such as Montgomery, Andalusia and Troy will be asked to participate.

However, the method for donation will vary for those cities.  For more information, contact Vesta Taylor at (334) 371-3326.