Firefighters Rob Favel, left, from Beaver Creek VFD, Wendy Stander from Sproat Lake VFD and Lt. Ryan Devries from Cherry Creek VFD accept 75 teddy bears from Port Alberni Toy Run members Robin Klatt, second from left, and Greg Philpott, second from right. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Firefighters Rob Favel, left, from Beaver Creek VFD, Wendy Stander from Sproat Lake VFD and Lt. Ryan Devries from Cherry Creek VFD accept 75 teddy bears from Port Alberni Toy Run members Robin Klatt, second from left, and Greg Philpott, second from right. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Rural fire departments receive Port Alberni Toy Run teddy bears

Bears were purchased and donated back by supporters

A teddy bear soothes anxiety in all sorts of situations—just ask members of the Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek and Sproat Lake volunteer fire departments.

All three rural departments received a donation of teddy bears from the Port Alberni Toy Run on Dec. 15; the bears will be kept in emergency vehicles to be handed out to children who may find themselves in scary situations.

“If there are children involved in stressful situations, whether it be a motor vehicle incident or fire, we’ll give them the bears to make them smile,” said Wendy Stander from Sproat Lake VFD.

Each volunteer fire department received a bag of 25 bears.

“It makes a big difference to a little kid that’s scared,” said Rob Favel from Beaver Creek VFD.

Toy Run executive came up with the idea to sell the bears when they knew the 2020 Toy Run was going to be adversely affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Volunteers sewed tiny masks on hundreds of bears to give them a 2020 personality.

All the bears donated to rural fire departments have been purchased and donated back to the Toy Run, executive member Robin Klatt said.

Bears have already been distributed to paramedics with BC Ambulance and to the Port Alberni Fire Department.

Toy Run bears are still available for $20 each at Buy-Low Foods on Johnston Road, Camille’s Hair and Beauty Salon on Angus Street and Double R Meats on Third Avenue in Port Alberni, and Weaver’s Leather on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, which has already sold 100 bears and asked for 30 more.

“They make perfect stocking stuffers and they’re timely too,” Toy Run chair Dave Wiwchar said.

Teddy bear sales have helped the Toy Run make the same amount of profit it does when a full event weekend runs, “so we’ll be able to make the same donations we usually do,” Wiwchar added.

Although events such as First Night aren’t happening, Wiwchar said the Toy Run will still be contributing to the City of Port Alberni’s Parks, Recreation and Heritage programs “as soon as they get the green light to continue.”

The teddy bear program was so popular this year that they hope to continue in future years, Klatt said. The 2020 bears have miniature hand-sewn masks to commemorate the coronavirus pandemic.

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