Teddy Bear Project

In 2003, the RCBR encountered one of the most unique opportunities for a combination Community Service and Charitable Fundraising Project in Club history. 

Club Member Rick Taylor, General Contractor, was engaged by a client to complete a large tenant office remodel. When he arrived to survey the project, the exiting occupant, a wholesale toy distributor, had a room stacked high with boxes of unsold inventory. There was a sales fad at that time to purchased TY Company small stuffed animals, called “Beanie Babies”.

The inventory boxes were filled with plush, medium-sized TY teddy bears.

Rick asked the tenant occupant and owner, “what do you want me to do with these bears?” The toy seller replied, “just get rid of them and use them for kids”.

Club Member, Taylor, called another member, a Construction Engineer/Contractor, Rick Zimmer, and on an impulse move, asked, “I just got “some” toys, can you store a few stuffed bears in your office warehouse, and get a truck to help me move them?”

Several Club Members rented a U-Haul and moved 300 boxes, with 16 bears each, to the warehouse, 4,800 bears!!

The first decision was to give a supply of bears to Local First Responders (police and sheriff departments), social workers (DCF) and others, to give a bear to a child traumatized by a family crisis, accident, etc. After giving local agencies all they could handle (500 bears), they said enough!, with thanks. There were still over 4,000 bears living in the warehouse.

Using Club ingenuity, while conforming to the direction of the donor, Members mobilized into a fundraising posture, to generate money for children and children’s charities.

Club Members began street sales to customers at bagel and, coffee shops, diners, grocery store stands, walking spectator lines at football games, Christmas parade and other gatherings. We sold the $25 valued toys, for $10 each. After almost a year of weekly sales, the Club Members were weary of street walking.

The Club had an idea, if the TY Bears could help our children’s charity fundraising, why not spread it around Rotary!

Using Rotary Network Contacts, we offered bears to other Clubs in neighboring areas for $5 each, that they could sell for $10 and keep the proceeds.

Several Members delivered multiple boxes of 16 bears each, participating to Clubs from Jupiter to Key Largo.

After 2 years of marathon sales, all in all, the Club generated almost $34,000 into the “Teddy Bear Fund”, designated exclusively for use in supporting children’s causes.

Fundraising by Innovative Serendipity.