Operation Teddy Bear LogoOperation Teddy Bear

Operation Teddy Bear® is a volunteer-powered literacy program that provides more than 4,000 schoolbags filled with books, educational supplies and wellness tools to the area's most underserved first grade students. The program provides volunteers with an opportunity to help and inspire these children first-hand, by packing and delivering the bags, as well as interacting with and reading to the students in their classrooms. Click here to see a video of Operation Teddy Bear in action.

How Operation Teddy Bear Helps | Keeping Up with the Needs of the Students
How You Can Help | Our Generous Sponsors | Operation Teddy Bear Volunteers-in-Action

The Need for Educational Support

An average of 76% of students in the school districts we serve live at or below the poverty line, making them eligible for the Free and Reduced Meal Program. While our Food For Kids program helps with the dietary needs, many of these students also arrive at school without adequate educational supplies to begin their day. This can have dramatic negative effects on school performance, behavior, well-being and future academic success, creating special needs in the areas of education, literacy and self-esteem.

Operation Teddy Bear student with teddy bear

OTB Teacher with supplies

Operation Teddy Bear Boy with BooksHow Operation Teddy Bear Helps...

The Students

Operation Teddy Bear addresses these needs by providing our signature schoolbags, educational materials and wellness tools to every first grade student at select schools in our service area each year. The schoolbags contain such items as reading and coloring books, writing journals, crayons, STEAM kits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and of course, teddy bears!

The Teachers

OTB Volunteer with StudentsThe program also provides teachers with supplies, including items such as white board marker/eraser sets, tissues, pencils, crayons and glue sticks.

The Community

And that's not all. Our volunteers love taking the time to read an original story about “Teddy the volunteer” to the students, which facilitates a lesson about kindness, compassion, volunteering and identifying emotions, and uses the experience of receiving a gift as encouragement to "pay it forward." 

We also partner with GreenVetsLA and their nonprofit vocational rehabilitation program, Vets Corps USA, to produce the schoolbags locally, which provides job training for disabled, homeless and/or unemployed veterans.

This multi-faceted approach sets the students up for success and everyone wins!

Operation Teddy Bear student with STEM bookKeeping Up with the Needs of the Students

Each year, we survey the teachers and principals to gather feedback on the program and how it fits the students’ needs. Last year, we added writing journals, math manipulatives (in the form of play money) and additional non-fiction books at the request of the teachers and principals. These additions better complement the Common Core Curriculum Standards - with an increased emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) - and help the students practice what they’ve learned in class at home. This year, we’re incorporating more STEAM-related items, as well as items to help the students identify emotions, write about feelings and relieve stress as a part of the Volunteer Center’s new focus on social and emotional well-being

How You Can Help

See Operation Teddy Bear in Action Make a Monetary Donation

Operation Teddy Bear® is funded entirely by donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. Make an immediate impact on these students by donating toward the cost of a bag (each bag costs approximately $55). 

Click here to donate and put Operation Teddy Bear in the notes section

 Sponsor a School

Operation Teddy Bear packingCompanies and organizations can adopt an entire school as an Operation Teddy Bear Sponsor.
Click here for more information.


Community members can volunteer to help with Operation Teddy Bear in one of the following ways between August and December:

  • Collect supplies
  • Set up materials
  • Pack schoolbags
  • Deliver bags to schools
  • Read to the children
  • Provide administrative support

Operation Teddy Bear Dental Supply Driveheart logo Contribute to our Operation Teddy Bear Dental Supply Drive - now through September 28!

Next time you're at the store, please consider picking up some single, individually-packaged toothbrushes and/or travel-sized toothpaste. You can also ask your dentist to donate a box of either or both of these items. Email Liz Reinhardt at liz@volcenter.org if you would like a printable request letter to take with you when you visit your dentist. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of our office in Torrance (1230 Cravens Ave.) Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

We've made it easy to support the Dental Supply Drive through our new Amazon.com Wish List (purchased items will be sent directly to the Volunteer Center, and if you use AmazonSmile during check out, we will also benefit from the total purchase). 

For more information on ways you can help, contact Trisha Smith at trisha@volcenter.org or (310) 212-5009.

We are also grateful to the Affinity Group for their support of the Operation Teddy Bear program. Click here to learn more.

Operation Teddy Bear is possible thanks to the support our generous sponsors:

The Affinity Group


John Deere Foundation


Los Angeles Trial Lawyers' Charities




The Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation


Port of Long Beach

QuinStar Technology, Inc.


South Bay Junior Women's Club



Carl E. Wynn Foundation

Battle Creek Community Foundation




Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach

The Molina Foundation

Port of Los Angeles


South Bay Association of Realtors


Torrance Refining Company


Watson Land Company


Operation Teddy Bear® is a registered trademark of the Volunteer Center South Bay-Harbor-Long Beach.