Operation Teddy Bear Volunteers
We are truly grateful to the family of volunteers, donors and sponsors that make Operation Teddy Bear possible each year. Together, we provided more than 4,000 local, underserved first grade students with our signature schoolbag filled with books, educational supplies and wellness tools, as well as more than 150 first grade teachers with appreciation kits. Volunteers also inspired the students at the 42 schools they visited during a lesson in kindness, compassion, volunteering and identifying emotions before distributing their surprise gift. Learn more about this year's volunteers below!
Operation Teddy Bear has been one of our most popular programs for years... 25 years to be exact! Our sponsors love supporting the program, because it means their employees and members get to participate in our heart-warming volunteer opportunities.
We added two new items to the schoolbag last year based on teacher feedback: a Rekenrek Counter to assist the first graders with counting and a STEAM Engineering Kit to help them learn to build two- and three-dimensional shapes. Our friends at Keenan & Associates assembled these items last year as their Impact Day project, and after we saw how popular they were, we knew we had to find a way to include them again this year.
These items were assembled throughout October by hard-working volunteers from our Affinity Group, Bank of America, Beacon House, California Water Service, John Deere, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Moog, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers, Sun Chlorella USA, Torrance Refining Company and Valero. An extra special shout out to our friends at Saatchi & Saatchi and Colorgraphics for helping us cut the many sheets of craft foam for the Rekenreks!
It was another awe-inspiring year as volunteers came together, ready and willing to help us pack more than 4,000 schoolbags for Operation Teddy Bear's 25th anniversary year! Volunteers representing the program's sponsors and other volunteer groups worked together over a day-and-a-half to fill the schoolbags with books, educational materials, wellness tools, and a very special teddy bear for local, underserved first graders.
Click here to see a video of one of the shifts in action at the warehouse generously donated by Sares Regis Group. You'll also hear a few words from Drs. Martha and Faustino Bernadett, co-founders of the Molina Foundation, at 1:38 in the video. They have been providing us with high-quality books through their Book Buddies grant program books for 15 years! You can also see more photos from packing in the album on our Facebook page.
Thank you to everyone who participated this year - we truly couldn't have done it with you! This year's volunteers included representatives from our Affinity Group, Beacon House, California Water Service, Herbalife and Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, John Deere, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, LMU Alumni Association, Molina Foundation, Moog, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers and Pipers, Sares Regis, South Bay Junior Women's Club, South Bay Touring A's, South High School's Interact Club, Torrance Refining Company, Valero Energy, and some of our wonderful Food For Kids volunteers.
Operation Teddy Bear's 25th anniversary year was another inspiring year of enthusiastic volunteers connecting with excited first graders and their grateful teachers. More than 4,000 underserved first graders at 42 schools in the South Bay, Los Angeles Harbor, Long Beach, Lennox and Compton learned about kindness, compassion, volunteering and identifying emotions from our amazing volunteers before the students were surprised with schoolbags filled with books, educational supplies and wellness tools and the teachers were surprised with bags of much-needed classroom supplies. The reactions were as priceless as ever! Click here to watch a video by our friends at the Port of Los Angeles to see some of those reactions and other great moments of volunteers connecting with the students.
We are grateful to the volunteers who took the time to visit the schools, inspire the first graders and distribute the schoolbags, including representatives from the Affinity Group, Bank of America, Beacon House, California Water Service, GreenVetsLA, Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, John Deere, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers' Charities, Molina Foundation, Moog, Nonprofit Partnership, Port of Los Angeles, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers, Sares Regis Group, Simon Law Group, South Bay Junior Women's Club, Sun Chlorella USA, Torrance Refining Company, Valero, Watson Land Company, as well as several individual volunteers and members of our Board of Directors.
None of this would've been possible without our amazing partners in the community who provide funding, in-kind donations, and of course, volunteers! Our program sponsors top that list, and they include the Affinity Group, John Deere Foundation, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers' Charities, Molina Foundation, Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, QuinStar Technology, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers Philanthropy Trust, Sares Regis Group, Valero Energy Foundation, Watson Land Company, Carl E. Wynn Foundation, and Whitney Young Children's Foundation.