When the Teddies for Tragedies program was started in 1999 we contacted the organization called Doctors Without Borders here in Toronto, Canada.
At the time we thought the best way to get the teddies to the children was to have the doctors and nurses take them when they traveled abroad to do their work. They agreed and when the first few bags of teddies were delivered to their offices – they were in shock! We took over 500 bears to them and the office was full of teddies.
After an emergency meeting with the administration, everyone agreed that this program was not feasible. Each person traveling abroad had very limited space in their luggage and transporting that many teddies was out of the question. They were pleased that we thought so much about the children and wanted to help, but at that time they could not accommodate that many teddies. By then we were receiving teddies by the hundreds from volunteers, and soon we had over 6,000. We had to find some way to get the bears to those who needed them -- the children.
Then we heard of an organization called The Samaritan’s Purse. They operate what is called Operation Christmas Child, a program where individuals, groups and churches fill up shoeboxes with items that are gender and age appropriate (i.e. – 7 year old boy; 5 year old girl).
We found a Distribution Center in Central Ontario that was willing to take as many bears that we were able to send and include a bear in each shoebox, as long as they were Teddies for Tragedies bears.
Since then we have sent knitted teddies to Operation Christmas Child on an average of 5-6,000 bears per year. They process the shoeboxes in late fall so that they are ready to deliver around Christmas. Some boxes are shipped as soon as they are prepared to traumatized children in disaster areas.
Boxes of teddies were delivered after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, after Hurricane Katrina, and most recently to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake.
Without the great organization of the Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child we could not deliver our teddies where they are needed most. We are very grateful for their help and involvement with our organization.
For more information on how to send your knitted bears to us, please visit our mailing information page.