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Officers collect teddy bears to comfort children in need

CARLSBAD — From Winnie the Pooh to Corduroy, there’s nothing as comforting as a cuddly teddy bear to soothe children in trying circumstances.
To help spread the cheer that cute stuffed animals often provide, the Carlsbad Police Department is participating in the 19th annual Regional Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive. Donations from the Carlsbad community will go to the Children’s Hospital, Casa de Amparo and the Women’s Resource Center.
“It’s a small thing but it can make a big difference to that kid,” Carlsbad Public Information Officer Lynn Diamond said.
More than 300 bears were collected by Carlsbad alone last year, and while this year’s donations have been sparse so far, Carlsbad police Officer Kari Ketchum expects them to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday. Ketchum has coordinated the Police Department’s collection efforts for the past five years and said that the cause is “very near and dear to my heart.”
The department will be collecting bears at the Carlsbad Safety Center, local malls and several other locations leading up the Dec. 14 deadline. Although understanding of the tough economic times that the community is facing, Diamond said she hopes that people will keep the area’s children in mind during the holiday season.
“It’s a great way to help with what can be a small commitment on their part,” Diamond said of the Carlsbad community.
The bears heading to Children’s Hospital will be delivered by a police motorcade, lights flashing and all. Ketchum and a handful of Carlsbad officers will join the procession to deliver bears that the department has collected. In the past, players from the San Diego Chargers have also joined in the delivery to surprise the children, Ketchum said.
“The kids love it,” Ketchum said. “They get really excited that the police officers come in for it and spend time with them.”
Donated bears will also be set aside for children at local Carlsbad facilities Casa de Amparo and the Women’s Resource Center. A few bears will remain at the Carlsbad Police Station for officers responding to calls with children involved. Some police officers have even made a habit of always keeping a bear in their patrol car to always be prepared if the situation arises, Diamond said.
“You don’t often see the softer part of law enforcement,” Diamond said.
Donated bears must be new with the tags still attached to be accepted for the Regional Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive. Donations can be dropped off at the Carlsbad Safety Center, 2560 Orion Way, during regular business hours before Dec. 14.
“It’s with the community’s help that makes this such a success,” Diamond said.