The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 27, 2013

Polar bear hugs delivered: Nursing home greets friendly visitor

By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News

— MAHONING TWP. — A large bear recently brought cheer to residents, staff and guests of Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community.

Healing Hugs Polar Bear and his Bear Buddy made a surprise visit to the Maria Joseph community Dec. 16.

Members of the Danville Middle School Eighth Grade Wind Ensemble, directed by Jeff Smith, performed Christmas carols.

Healing Hugs is a community outreach program sponsored by Sodexo Health Care Services and Coca Cola.

The program is designed to bring joy and comfort to seniors through a surprise visit by a fun-loving large polar bear, according to Maria Joseph officials.

Gary Derr, an employee of Sodexo at Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, portrayed the Healing Hugs Bear.

Gary Verruni, Sodexo Healing Hugs representative, served as the Bear Buddy.

Wind ensemble entertainers were Julia Resele, Faith Gard, Samantha Houser, Maddie Roth, Morgan Raup and Sarah Wildt.

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