The bears are donated each year by Prince Albert’s Tim Horton’s, which is owned by Ed Zaparaniuk and family. The money came out of the store’s marketing fund.
“Ed had expressed an interest in doing something positive for the hospital,” said Rob Dalziel, executive director of the Victoria Hospital Foundation.
“Hospitals can be a pretty cold sterile places,” Dalziel said.
He believes the bears help children feel more comfortable during their stay.
“For many children it is the first time they’ve ever been alone,” Dalziel said.
Many of the children at Victoria Hospital come from north of the city, said Dalziel, so the experience is even more jarring.
“Because Prince Albert is such a regional centre … we get people driving six hours to be here,” Dalziel said.
“It’s not any fun being sick and it’s even less fun being away from home,” Dalziel said.
360 fluffy bears may are dispersed among the 12,000 to 13,000 children who spend time in the hospital over the year, said Jane Antoine, nursing unit manager for pediatrics.
The nurses offer the teddy bears to children who are undergoing invasive surgery or medical treatment, to children who must spend longer periods of time in the hospital or to those who seem especially distressed by their situation.
“I really feel that they are a tool of our trade,” Antoine said.
The first child to receive a bear from the newest shipment this year was Jackson Anderson, 4, who has been in the children’s ward since Tuesday night.
Jackson was not terribly interested in chatting with the press, but instead seemed to enjoy the plush bear, and playing with other toys in the room with his mother, Carly Anderson, close behind.
“I think he likes it,” she said.
Various Tim Horton’s donate plush toys to hospitals across the country as part of a national Teddy Bear Picnic, said Zaparaniuk.