TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Shop owners, neighborhoods, and businesses worldwide banded together to form what is known as the ‘teddy bear hunt’, an effort to keep home-bound children busy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Business owners set teddy bears in their windows waiting to be discovered by young passersby, giving families a way to stay active and preserve their children’s curiosity.

Meisha Wilkinson, co-owner of the Magnolia Room, said 23 businesses in Erwin continue to partake in the teddy bear hunt.

“The owner of Whisk Bakery that’s getting ready to open downtown came up with that idea,” Wilkinson said. “I think it’s going on nationally, too. They have all the local businesses put bears in the windows for kids to come and find in association with the book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

While the CDC recommends everyone to continue practicing social distancing, it advises for small groups in outdoor settings for any social interactions.

“It’s really great just to see people getting out, enjoying the weather, and still staying active and being a part of the community,” Wilkinson said. “We’re excited to bring people to downtown to maybe experience some of the businesses they don’t know exist or just see some things they haven’t paid attention to before.”

Erwin isn’t the only area in the Tri-Cities participating in the ‘teddy bear hunt.’

A neighborhood in Kingsport joined together Saturday, with many placing the bears on mailboxes.

Photo courtesy to Teronya Holmes

Jordan Coleman Taylor saw the idea was spreading nationally and wanted her neighborhood to join in spreading smiles during this time of uncertainty.

Photo courtesy to Jordan Coleman Taylor

“I wanted my kids and the kids in my neighborhood to have the opportunity to have a bear hunt of their own,” Taylor said. “Something so little can mean so much. The children have something to look forward to, it keeps them active and gets them outside, but most importantly it takes their minds off of the fears they may have about the virus.”

A neighbor who also participated was Teronya Holmes, who told News Channel 11 this was the perfect way to get families out of the house.

“The idea is to create a fun activity to get families out walking or driving by to keep children entertained and active and to provide a much-needed distraction during a time of such uncertainty for children,” Holmes said.

“The response has been wonderful. I’m so thankful to witness how so many people are coming together to help others and provide wonderful ways to share joy and a little bit of happiness during this difficult time. “

If you see ways the community is coming together during the COVID-19 crisis, please E-mail your News Channel 11 team at

For more coverage on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, click here.