Toni Reese spends her day huddled over a sewing machine.
The fabric she uses has a purpose and each seam is stitched with precision.
The teddy bears she makes are a painstaking endeavor created out of love. Her creations are for grieving families who have lost a loved one.
“I used to be a nurse, and I loved it,” Reese said. “I loved helping people, and I think that’s why I love what I do so much.”
On Thursday, Toni met with Debbie Dahl, the widow of fallen Irving police officer Mark Dahl. Dahl is getting a bear made out of her husband’s old uniform.
“I miss him everyday, and he wouldn’t want me to just sit around, so I’m struggling to move on,” said Dahl, wiping away tears. “But I am going to do it.”
Dahl sees her customized “Mark bear” as a weapon against the sadness that hangs over her day and night.
“I don’t like sleeping in that bed, so this bear will be Mark sleeping with me,” she said.
Every detail matters to Reese and her customers. Dahl’s bear will have blue eyes, like her husband. It will have Mark’s badge number sewn into the fabric, which will be made from Mark’s old uniforms.
The bear’s chest will feature the sweetie pie tattoo Debbie got on her arm a few days after Mark’s death.
“He was my sweety-pie,” she said. “I always called him that so having it on there would be nice.”
Reese has turned her passion into a lucrative business, but she said the money is nothing compared to the happiness she can bring to a grieving family.
“The most rewarding part is seeing them picking up their bears after hearing their stories and knowing, seeing the comfort it brings them,” Reese said. “Knowing that I was able to do that with them, for them…that’s why I love doing what I do”