Donated teddy bears are bringing cheer to sick and abused children all around the U.S. this week. The Teddy Bear Party in Texas, The Teddy Bear Project in Utah, and The Teddy Bear Toss in Iowa are just a few places that teddy bears are the ambassadors of cheer during this Christmas season. Jason Hanna, founder of the Teddy Bear Party, a 501 (c) 3, explained that he and co-founder Joe Riggs celebrated their fourth annual event with 625 attendees and 710 teddy bears donated to benefit Children’s Health in Dallas, Texas.
“It truly is heartwarming for all of us to be able to personally deliver the teddy bears to Children’s, knowing these little bears will go directly into the arms of children that will be holding and loving them throughout whatever treatment or illness they are facing.”
At the Bank of American Fork on Thursday, the pile of donated animals nearly covered the Christmas tree. Bank of American Fork president and CEO Richard Beard explained that the 18,422 stuffed animals collected during this year’s project are just part of the enormous amount of animals donated over the 15 years since the bank’s Teddy Bear Project began.
“The total number of bears donated over the years is a little bit of trivia here, and that is 91,304 bears.”
On Thursday, Iowa Wild players took the team’s Teddy Bears Toss toys to sick children at Mercy’s pediatric ward. Team defenseman Alex Gudbranson says that the donated bears are all about “giving back.”
“My little brother had cancer for two years. It’s always good to give back. Seeing those smiles makes it all worthwhile.”
These type of “huggable” donations seem to growing in popularity. The events themselves have evolved over the past few years but the number of participants is growing. Hanna says that their event has definitely changed over the years.
“The Teddy Bear Party started in 2009 as a small Christmas house party of seventy-five friends in which we could all get together, have a few cocktails, laughs, and spread the holiday cheer. The annual event originated as a tree trimming party for the first year but transformed into a toy drive for Toys for Tots the following year.”
Hannah explained that into the third year of the event, his mom was diagnosed with cancer. In honor of her battle, the event took yet another path dedicated to a cause she held dear to her heart, which was children fighting disease.
Beard said that the bank’s teddy bear event usually begins around Thanksgiving, when people start dropping off the animals. But some people take the event a little more seriously than just dropping off a few bears. A group of three sisters got involved last year and donated 24 bears. Camryn Madsen, age 14, Carsyn Madsen, 13, and Tyleigh Madsen, 10, decided that they wanted to increase their donation this year.
“Last year we didn’t donate enough, so this year we wanted to donate more. We asked for money donations and money for our birthdays.”
The girls even sought out help from their school. The girl’s hard work, along with donations from their fellow students, allowed them to donate 1,607 bears to this year’s event.
[image via Gleaning For The World]