Fairfield University's annual holiday Teddy Bear Drive brings smiles to children in need



Image: Teddy bearsWith the economic impact of the recession being far from over, and the demand for toys at an all-time high, a group of student volunteers at Fairfield University have been busy this holiday season collecting a record number of Teddy Bears for children in need.

In its 11th year, the annual Teddy Bears with Love program is a community service project spearheaded by Fairfield's Student Alumni Association. The group just finished collecting 1,477 bears for kids who live locally, and as far away as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Since its inception, the holiday giving program has collected and donated nearly 12,500 Teddy Bears.

According to Colleen McGinn, associate director of alumni relations, who oversees the project says, "Believe it or not, the recession hasn't seemed to have made a huge difference on our collection. While the numbers do vary each year, we find it doesn't have much to do with the economy, as it does with people choosing to give to other charities."

McGinn also explained there was a concern at one point they wouldn't be able to accommodate a request from a Philadelphia-based children's charity before Christmas. An organizer for Philadelphia's regional collection sent out an e-mail to the alumni chapter reminding everyone in the area to donate, and a local alumnus offered to purchase over 100 bears to make up the difference. "It's instances like this that show the true spirit of giving," McGinn added.

Image: Teddy bearsAlumni chapters from Boston, Chicago, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. served as area contacts for local alumni to donate bears, and McGinn points out the success of the drive has led other universities to develop a Teddy Bear drive of their own. "Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have established a program to fit the needs of their community," McGinn said.

Erin Stahl, a senior and president of Fairfield's Student Alumni Association says the Teddy Bears with Love program is a meaningful way for the Student Alumni Association, and the campus community to come together, and spread some holiday cheer. "I personally love the Teddy Bears program because each bear collected means one more smile on a child's face, and I can't think of a better gift to give each year," she said.

The furry stuffed animals will be hand-delivered to 12 locations, including Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Georgetown Medical Child Life Program in Washington, D.C., Variety - The Children's Charity in Philadelphia, Overlook Hospital of Summit, NJ, and Suffolk County Child Advocacy Center in New York. Connecticut sites include Bridgeport and St. Vincent's Hospitals, Yale New Haven Children's and Connecticut Children's Medical Centers, St. Mary's Hospital, and Action Bridgeport Community Development. "There's something about driving up to the door of one of these hospitals and charities, and handing over hundreds of new Teddy Bears, knowing they're going directly to a child," McGinn said.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 22, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 157