The donation was made on behalf of the company’s charitable wing Western Communities Foundation. Managers who attended the 2013 leadership conference in B.C. built more than 200 bears to distribute to 10 communities across Canada.
“They brought in cartfuls of these bears and we picked one and you dress them up and give them a little birth certificate,” Western Financial Group P.A. office manager Kale Harnett said.
“They were all put together on the stage and shipped off to the different communities … I chose the Children’s Haven to have them donated around here and that they would be put to good use there … It was a fun way to do something a little bit different, out of the box, as far as a donation.”
Western Communities Foundation has previously donated an automatic defibrillator machine to the East End Community Club and made notable contributions to the Alfred Jenkins Field House and the SPCA.
The company’s teddy bear offering has gone down well with its beneficiaries.
“Obviously we’re elated,” P.A. Children’s Haven director Lynda Douglas said.
“They were just a really nice donation of the Build-a-Bear teddy bears. We give them out to the children when they go home, and of course that always makes them really, really happy.
“We do receive teddy bears every so often, but these were kind of special because the people of the Western Financial Group built their bear themselves and then donated to us. So we felt quite honoured to be the recipient of these teddy bears.”
The P.A. Children’s Haven provides a home-like environment for children under 12 years old as well as support for parents during family crises, and has been operating in the city for two decades.
Obviously we’re elated. - Lynda Douglas
Children who stay there typically receive a parting gift. Teddy bears are one of the most prized toys to give kids because of their universal appeal and gender neutrality, delighting boys and girls alike.
Given the sheer volume of children who pass through its doors -- Douglas estimated that the P.A. Children’s Haven took in an average of 16 children per day last year -- it’s no surprise that the bears disappear quickly.
“I was just looking for our average daily attendance from last year,” Douglas said. “I know it was well over 5,000 children that we had. 5,771, I do believe it was …
“Teddy bears don’t last long around here.”
Each bear’s birth certificate listed its name, the date and location of its “birth,” the bear’s favourite colour, actor, sport and what it would wish for the child it was being donated to.
Harnett bestowed the name of Sonny upon his own bear, whom he made a karate expert.
“His favourite actor was Jackie Chan … his favourite colour was blue … because the bear itself was actually blue,” Harnett explained.
“It had a little karate uniform on with different coloured belts that went along with it too, so you could change out from a … white belt and go up from there to a black belt.”
The larger Prince Albert community will have a chance to make donations to Children’s Haven on March 21-22, when the organization hold its annual radio marathon to raise funds for the operational budget.