Teddy Bear Drive Gives Kids A Smile In Michiana Hospitals

It’s that time of the year to give and staff at the South Bend International Airport did this in spades, when they delivered over 1,000 teddy bears and other stuffed animals to children as part of their popular “Bears in the Air” drive. Three hospitals saw a plethora of cuddly and furry friends arriving Monday and the kids were thrilled.

Children at three Michiana hospitals benefited from the teddy bear drive, as staff members from South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana, visited Lakeland Healthcare, Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in the Michiana area.

This is the third year the drive has been running, with airport staff asking people in the community to bring new teddy bears to the airport terminal to add to the popular “Bear Den” and it’s is a popular drive indeed, bringing beautiful smiles to the children’s faces just before Christmas.

The drive culminated on December 21, with everyone invited to bring a teddy bear. They had to be brand new for health and hygiene reasons. Anyone who didn’t bring a teddy bear had the opportunity to buy one at the door for $10, which gave not only a smile to the face of a child, but the cash from these purchases will benefit the Robert L. Miller Senior Veteran’s Center, bringing even more smiles this year.

The airport published the drive on its Facebook page, saying anyone that brought or bought a bear could enjoy light refreshments, music and door prizes, while the airport’s terminal was transformed into a festive Bear Den filled with hundreds of bears.

Mike Daigle, executive director of South Bend International Airport told WNDU that being in the hospital is not a pleasant experience for the kids, but when you give them a teddy bear, you can see joy in the children’s eyes and in their faces. Even if it’s not a good day for them, you can sometimes get a smile, he added, which makes it such a worthwhile drive, despite the months of work that goes into it.

Daigle told Fox that the teddy bears gave the children something to focus on, to cuddle and to love, which can only make the hospital experience better for them. The airport is planning on continuing the drive during the year with many more teddy bears reaching eager young arms.

There was gratitude on Twitter as a result of the drive with Lakeland HealthCare responding as follows with a gorgeous photo of the donated toys:

Inquisitr reported on a similar story last week when the Teddy Bear Party in Texas, Utah and Iowa donated teddy bears to sick and abused children all over the U.S.A worthy effort indeed.

[Photo: courtesy South Bend International Airport Facebook Event]