A 62-year-old Hungarian woman nicknamed ‘Teddy Bear Mama’ has over 20,000 teddy bears that she has collected over the past 40 years. The stuffed toys are neatly packed up, “hibernating”, in a warehouse waiting for the ongoing pandemic to end so they can once again bring smiles to children.
Valeria Schmidt, the caretaker of the mammoth number of bears bagged the Guinness World Record in 2019 for having the largest number of these toys in the world. She broke the Hungarian record with 13,000 of these bears prior to finding a spot in the world records list.
Schmidt acquired a passion for bears during her childhood, growing up in economically poor conditions, Reuters reported. “Not only we did not have toys but we barely had clothes,” she told the news website. “That is why I wanted a teddy bear so I could hug it and get some love from it.”
Stating that the bear “cured her soul”, she said: “These teddy bears can make up for the hunger, all the lack of love, lack of toys and everything. Especially when I see children coming to see my exhibition and I see the joy and happiness in their eyes.”
When asked what she does with the record-breaking collection of teddy bears, Schmidt stated that she gives away her toy collection to nurseries, pre-schools and poor families. She also conducts exhibitions at children’s institutions where the kids can come up and play with the bears. However, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has prevented her from doing what she loves.