Sometimes, a soft and fuzzy teddy bear can comfort children during times of extreme stress.
That’s why the Chandler Police Department, along with A. Tom Wood Team at Keller Williams Realty East Valley are organizing their second annual Teddy Bear Drive from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Bashas’ at 4940 S. Gilbert Road in Chandler.
People can drop off new teddy bears, which police will provide to youths who might need extra support in a crisis.
Last year, the A. Tom Wood Team collected close to 800 teddy bears for children in the community.
Team leader Tom Wood, a broker, and his son, Jeff, also a Realtor, were motivated to organize the drive because of a stressful experience Jeff had as a child, when he wandered away from his Chandler home on his Big Wheel toward a Taco Bell.
He had been with his siblings and a large group of children while his parents left for just a few minutes.
“We came back and all of a sudden, it’s like, where’s Jeff?” Tom said. “You call down the street and you look down the street and there’s no Jeff. You start really freaking out.”
Tom and his wife called the police right away. Neighbors spotted Jeff crying in the neighborhood. Police gave Jeff a teddy bear to comfort him. He still has it.
“There was a handful of police officers there,” Jeff said. “That’s probably the only teddy bear I have left from my childhood. We wanted to so something to give back and help out Chandler Police Department.”
He said the bears can comfort a child who’s lost their parents or a kid who got lost after wandering off.
“I can’t imagine losing a parent or both parents or witnessing a crime or something far worse than what happened to me,” Jeff said.
Last year, people donated teddy bears of all shapes and sizes. One woman from Glendale drove up with a cart-full of bears to give. “It was like that scene out of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Tom said. “It was just amazing.”
Anyone with questions about the drive may contact Tom Wood at 480-510-1221 or email@example.com.