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EU retired staff member, alum celebrates National Teddy Bear Day in unique way

Published on Sep 15, 2023 by Erin Hedlun

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Each year, on September 9, Karen Noack (EU ’85) celebrates National Teddy Bear Day by knitting, crocheting, and giving away stuffed bears to current EU students. Noack, a retired EU cafeteria cashier affectionately known by most students as “Ms. Karen,” began the tradition because of a COVID-19 cancellation.

“During the fall 2019 semester, my husband (EU Education Department Chair Eddie Noack) and I were organizing a team of students for a summer trip to Cambodia in 2020,” Noack said. “Through Evangel’s Education Department, we were planning to provide professional development to teachers in the country and visit an orphanage. I initially made the bears to give to the children in the orphanage.”

Due to the global pandemic and ensuing restrictions, the trip was cancelled, leaving Noack with a crate full of teddy bears. She continued to knit more, hoping the trip would be rescheduled, but when it wasn’t, she found an alternate use for the stuffed animals.

“During the fall 2020 semester, I decided to share the bears with EU students as they came in to eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria. I was hoping to relieve some of the stress of the COVID protocols,” Noack said.

Though she expected little interest, Noack was surprised at just how many students gladly accepted the gifts.

Karen Noack pictured with her husband, EU Education Department Chair Eddie Noack
Karen Noack pictured with her husband, EU Education Department Chair Eddie Noack

“Surprisingly, college students love receiving a teddy bear,” Noack said. “Their enthusiasm brightened not only my day but also brought encouragement to their peers.”

Noack later learned about the September 9 national holiday, and she began a tradition. At this year’s annual teddy bear handout, she made 751 teddy bears to distribute to EU students, faculty, and staff members. She notes that several of the students still own and display bears from previous years.

“Everyone deserves a teddy bear, especially on National Teddy Bear Day,” Noack said. “The student’s excitement, smiles, and appreciation make every stitch worth it. I want students to know that someone is thinking about them, and even though I no longer work in the cafeteria, they still have a big part of my heart.”


About Evangel University

Evangel University, with its embedded Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Spirit-led Christian university located in Springfield, Missouri. It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Under the leadership of Dr. Mike Rakes, EU is committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally and becoming compassionate innovators in their chosen vocations. EU offers more than 70 degree programs, including cutting-edge majors, pre-professional programs, and affordable and flexible online degree options.

EU is highly regarded and has been ranked:

  • #1 Best College in Springfield & #2 Best Christian College in Missouri by Niche
  • US News & World Report Best Colleges Top Performer in Social Mobility
  • Colleges of Distinction Best Christian University
  • Top 10 Best Universities by
  • Third Most Beautiful Campus in the Midwest by Christian Colleges & Universities
  • Top 10 Best Colleges in Missouri by

With additional accreditations in business, counseling, music, social work, and theology and certification as an Excellence in Giving university, EU is focused on providing students with hands-on experience and real-world training for today’s professional careers. Learn more about the university at