Bear Hugs for Those in Need

Local woman founds charitable hub to give back to community

Article by Daryl Dirham

Photography by Terry Fravel

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

Lifetime Jackson Township resident Katherine White was called to action during the pandemic and pondered a way to give back to her community.

Ultimately, she imagined a charitable hub where donations of every stripe—home goods, appliances, clothing, tools, furniture, even food—could be funneled to worthy organizations, churches and individuals. With that, Jackson Bear Hugs was born, a newly minted 501(c)(3) charity overseen by Katherine and her husband, David.

The group is already aligned with some impressive associates, including the YMCA, SAM Center, ICAN Housing Inc. and Jackson Local Schools. In fact, the organization borrows a familiar color from the school district and has taken “purple with a purpose” as its battle cry.

To illustrate what Jackson Bear Hugs can accomplish, Katherine recalls the story of a local student who needed a new mattress. Within days of putting out the call, she received eight mattresses, dressers, nightstands, lamps and bedding.

“There’s a lot of love here,” says Katherine.

As donations pour in, a community of volunteers sort through them and determine the best place to route them. She touts her organization’s lack of red tape. “We don’t have restrictions. If someone needs help, we help.”

She is quick to point out that it’s not a one-woman show. It takes a team of individuals who make the work of Jackson Bear Hugs possible, including Donnie Childress, Lisa Flagg, Max Leistman and the Bostic Family.

The organization is currently operating out of a rented 1,000-square-foot space, but is quickly outgrowing it. “If anyone has space available, call me,” says Katherine.

If you have that space or if you are interested in donating to or volunteering with Jackson Bear Hugs, call 330.714.9645. You can follow the organization on Instagram @JacksonBearHugs.

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