The Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive began in1990, when Officer Brian Hardy from the Coronado Police Department was on a routine follow up call at Rady Children’s Hospital. Navigating the halls of the hospital, Brian got lost looking for an exit when he noticed a bin marked “Toy Donations.” The nearly empty bin inspired Brian to take action, so he purchased 12 teddy bears with his own money and donated them to Rady Children’s.
Twenty years later, the San Diego Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive has grown from one officer and 12 teddy bears to more than 100 officers representing 15 agencies collecting upwards of 40,000 bears every year.
Each year, one agency volunteers to lead the Annual Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive, meeting monthly to plan the December event with representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Everything from the collection of the bears, to the kick-off breakfast, to the caravan route, to promotion and media are discussed in detail.
The Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive is a unique event onto itself. A caravan of nearly 80 motor/police cars leave the U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum traveling San Diego’s streets and highways en route to Rady Children’s. A crowd of cheering patients, parents and staff greet the officers as they motor in, one-by-one, filling up the driveway in front of the Rose Pavilion.
After a brief ceremony, the officer’s break into groups of two, visiting patients in various departments in the hospital, offering a teddy bear to every patient. Each child treasures this special visit and enjoys the comfort of their new teddy bear, creating memories to last a lifetime.
Plans for the Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive are in full swing, collecting bears across the county. If you or your organization are interested in participating, visit www.sandiegoregionalteddybeardrive.com.