West Chester students began preparing for the holidays as they kicked off the 13th annual Bear Fair. Starting November 1st, our West Chester Students began supporting the local children in need. This meaningful service gives the less fortunate a new furry friend to keep them company during hard times. Bear Fair is run by student organizations and alumni helping to collect new teddy bears for children affected by illness and tragic situations. These children are given the teddy bears during the month of December.
The program was started in 1997 by a single West Chester Student. Today, over thirty alumni along with several student organizations have joined to help make Bear Fair as effective as it is. The first collection accumulated around 200 bears. Each year since then the program has become increasingly successful with last years collection of 6,000 furry friends. This year they aim to accumulate even more. Since 1997, the Bear Fair has touched over 36,000 children.
Children who have been through hardships such as disease and many other tragic situations are comforted by the help of Bear Fair, especially during crucial times. Ranging from toddlers to teens, no one is too old for a soft friend. In many cases, children have clung to the teddies after their families have had to leave their hospital rooms, or when family can’t ride along in the ambulance.
Anyone can get involved with this campus-wide service project and donate a bear at numerous locations on campus, including Sykes, which has collection boxes all through November. Monetary donations are just as welcome. The program asks that each bear is new, and preferably a teddy bear of at least 6 inches. The organization also has benefit days at local merchants. An upcoming event at Wendel August in Exton is giving a percent of their profit to Bear Fair on Nov. 19 between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. when shoppers mention Bear Fair. Resident halls are doing their part too. Many halls are giving residents the fun option to donate a dollar to the cause, and then color a bear to be posted in their resident lobby.
Recipients are beyond grateful for their bears. “Who doesn’t want to give back to the children?” said Allie Harris, a resident assistant who set up the Bear Fair donations in Tyson Hall. “It’s something more fun that children can enjoy and keep, rather than food donations.” Bear Fair’s unique donations will become a keepsake as the children become older. Hospitals and shelters enthusiastically except the bear donations. “It was such a pleasure to see the joy that your bears brought to the faces of all who received them,” said Andrea Russ, Drexel University College of Medicine. “It brought an added delight to children who often do not have much to celebrate this time of year.”
To become involved with Bear Fair and contribute to the difference the program is making, students can head over to Sykes Student Union or find out other ways you can help at www.wcupa.edu/_SERVICES/stu.slv/bearfair with more upcoming events and drop-off locations.
Lauren Gerba is a West Chester University student majoring in Communication Studies. She can be reached at LG688551@wcupa.edu.