Families unite after sentimental teddy bear stolen

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HUDSONVILLE, Mich (WOOD) – A Hudsonville family says they’ve received a Christmas miracle.

Last weekend, a teddy bear was stolen during a car break-in. It was more than just a toy — it had huge value to a 19-year-old woman named Grace. The community gave that bear to her as a child when her brother died. Now, another member of the community stepped up to help her again. In an emotional moment, a family gave her another bear this week.

It’s not the exact bear that was stolen, but it may be even better because the bear is the same model from 10 years ago, and it came from another teenager who also lost a sibling.

The bear is now bringing the two Hudsonville families together, and they feel it’s divine intervention.

It started last Friday when Jolynn Van Wienen’s daughter, Grace, had her car broken into and her belongings were stolen including her “Seth” bear.

“That was the one thing that she really wanted to have back,” Van Wienen said.

She called it “Seth” bear, after her brother. “It was 10 years ago last month that our son, Seth, was killed in a car accident,” Van Wienen said.

Grace didn’t want to do an interview Thursday, but her mom explained that Grace and Seth were very close. Seth was adopted and the two were the same age.

“When she isn’t able to see him every day, she has something,” said Van Wienen, talking about the teddy bear.

When Van Wienen learned the teddy bear was taken, she contacted KXAN sister station WOOD, hoping it could share the picture on Facebook and get the bear back.

The story captured hearts and it ran a story on air. It was seen on social media by Aileen Dejonge.

“When I heard the story, I really identified. We lost a child as well,” Dejonge said.

Her daughter, Elyse Marie, was less than 1 year old when she got meningitis and died.

“This year she would have been turning 19,” Dejonge said – the same age that Seth would be now.

When Grace was getting the bear for the loss of her brother, Dejonge’s now 15-year-old daughter, Anni, was getting the same bear for her birthday 10 years ago. After seeing the post, Dejonge asked her daughter if she still had the bear. And sure enough, she did, and was willing to give it to Grace.

The families think Seth and Elyse had something to do with it.

“It’s a God thing,” said Dejonge’s daughter, Anni.

The two families have exchanged information and plan on keeping in touch.

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