Imagine losing your home to a fire or a flood. Imagine having to spend the holidays in the hospital. Now imagine that this has happened to a child. During times like these, it is sometimes difficult to comfort a child; however, giving a child a teddy bear can instantaneously bring a smile to their face. For one moment, a child can forget his/her negative experience and be a kid again.
Because of this impact, new, soft and cuddly teddy bears are wanted. Now its the eleventh annual year, a committee of West Chester University students and alumni are busy planning events to help collect thousands of teddy bears to give to children in need.
Bear Fair month is the entire month of November and is looking for support from students, faculty and the community.
This student-run project started in 1997 and has grown over the years. It is coordinated by a student committee through the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs.
They collect on campus in academic buildings, such as E. O. Bull Center, Ruby Jones, Sykes Student Union and Twardowski Career Development Center, and residence halls like Goshen, McCarthy, Ramsey and Wayne, and at a range of locations off-campus, such as churches, youth groups, and schools where alumni are teaching. In the past 10 years over 23,000 teddy bears have been given away.
The Bear Fair project collects teddy bears to provide comfort to children impacted by HIV/AIDS, as well as those in hospitals, shelters, and in need at holiday time.
Numerous hospitals and other charities have provided thanks to the organization for their hard work.
“On behalf of the Chester County Hospital many thanks to you and your organization for the wonderful donation of teddy bears,” a spokesperson from the Chester County Hospital said. “We use the teddy bears in pediatrics, the emergency department, and the outpatient lab. A soft cuddly teddy bear helps a lot when a child is facing a blood test.”
Chester County Community Hospital is not the only area reaping the benefits of Bear Fair.
A spokesperson from the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic said, “A child barely over a year old needed to be transported immediately by ambulance to Hershey Medical Center. When she left with her mother, the child was tightly holding one of the teddy bears. Thank you for your teddy bear donations…your gifts brought joy to lots of children who undergo long and painful craniofacial surgeries.”
In order to give to the children that benefit from this cause, the Bear Fair committee will be holding several fundraising events in and around campus.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, look for committee members with their own teddy bears in honor of the month. There will be a canning event outside of the West Goshen ACME on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Nov. 12, at the Stadium Grille if the words “Bear Fair” are said at the register, then a portion of the check will go to support the cause. The event lasts all day so lunch, dinner or snacks can all help the cause.
Not only will there be a benefit night on Nov. 12, but students and faculty should keep their eyes peeled for Winnie-the-Pooh who will begin to roam the campus on Nov. 12 as well.
Also, a gigantic teddy bear will be raffled off throughout the month of November, and all proceeds raised from the raffle will be used to buy new teddy bears. This teddy bear stands at about three feet tall, and is soft and cuddly. There will be raffle locations throughout campus so students and faculty should keep their eyes peeled.
When considering donating to Bear Fair, remember the Bear Fair motto: “One little bear can make one big difference in one child’s life.” To find out more about Bear Fair visit http://iws.wcupa.edu/bearfair/ or call 610-4336-3379.
Kristen Gilia is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at KG595045@wcupa.edu.