"Teddy Bears with Love Drive" collects and distributes over 1,400 teddy bears in 13th annual event organized by Fairfield University's Student Alumni Association

Image: Teddy BearsCelebrating its 13th year as a staple of the Christmas season at Fairfield University, the "Teddy Bears with Love Drive"is a two-month long community service project spearheaded by Fairfield's Student Alumni Association. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of Fairfield, over 1,400 bears were donated and distributed to children's hospitals and charities as close as Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut and as far away as Georgetown Medical in Washington, D.C. Additionally, over 100 teddy bears were donated to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, as part of the "Heal Newtown" initiative, organized by KC101 FM Radio in Connecticut.

Since its inception, the holiday giving program has collected and donated over 15,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals. Overseen this year but senior Student Alumni Association members Julie and Jennifer Labbadia '13, from Westbrook, Conn., the drive had a larger presence than ever on campus and subsequently the largest amount of student involvement since its inception. Hundreds of students donated bears and/or gave monetarily to a fundraising drive where all money raised would go to purchase new teddy bears. 

"Every year, I'm more and more amazed by the generosity of all of Fairfield's alumni, students, friends…the entire community," said Colleen McGinn, associate director of alumni relations and Student Alumni Association advisor. "This year, especially after the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the local community, we expected there to be significantly less, but we've had one of our largest collections to date. It's truly such a feel-good project. And what makes it so special is that it's completely organized by our students."

Alumni chapters from Boston, MA, Hartford, CT, Chicago, IL, Manhattan, NY, Northern New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. held area collections for alumni from their respective cities to donate bears to charities and hospitals that are in their communities. The chapters alone collected over 200 teddy bears.

The Labbadias said "This is our favorite project of the year. We were so honored to be chosen as chairs. It's a great opportunity to give back to the community and a great way for Fairfield to make an impact. This year, everyone was so overly generous we were able to give to even more charities. "

The furry stuffed animals were hand-delivered to over a dozen locations, including Children's Hospital, Boston, MA; St. Francis Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, CT; Bridgeport and St. Vincent's Hospitals, Bridgeport, CT; Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, New Haven, CT; Hour Children, New York, NY; Operation Sleighbells, Long Branch, NJ; Georgetown Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; and Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL; in addition to Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, CT.

"Every year it grows and grows, and more children have the opportunity to get a teddy bear," said the Labbadias. "It's truly a testament to the entire Fairfield University community."

For more information on the Teddy Bears with Love Drive, please e-mail the Student Alumni Association at FairfieldSAA@gmail.com.

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647, mhoryczun@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 21, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 139

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