Donate your new stuffed animals at any Bank of American Fork location. Our centers can only take new stuffed animals because of health codes, but we hope you’ll help us to collect enough new stuffed animals to help at-risk Utah children.The presentation of the stuffed animals will be held December 15th at 11 A.M. at the American Fork branch.
Project Teddy Bear is a community service project benefitting Utah children and sponsored by Bank of American Fork. Customers, employees and community members donate teddy bears and other stuffed animals that are given to the Utah Valley Family Support & Treatment Center in Orem, Salt Lake Valley Family Support Center (locations in Midvale, Taylorsville, West Valley City and Sugarhouse), Family Connection Center (in Layton/Clearfield and Bountiful) and other crisis and service centers.
Starting around Thanksgiving, employees, customers and other members of the community can begin dropping off new stuffed animals to any Bank of American Fork location. Following the presentation, teddy bears and other stuffed animals will be donated to the support centers.
These centers have the mission of preventing and treating child abuse through education, therapy and outreach. Crisis nurseries are available for children who have been abused, are in danger of being abused or are awaiting placement in a foster home. A soft teddy bear to hug during these times of trauma or loneliness is a great comfort to the children. At-risk children also undergo therapy sessions at the centers throughout the year. A teddy bear gives them something to hold during sessions, provides much-needed comfort and helps in the healing process. It may also be the only Christmas present a child receives.
This year will be the 18th anniversary of Project Teddy Bear at Bank of American Fork. When the bank started the program in 2000, it collected 237 bears. Since then, more than 100,000 bears have been donated to Utah’s at-risk children. Bank of American Fork and community members collected an all-time high of 20,466 stuffed animals in 2013.
To see how the American Fork branch is transformed during Project Teddy Bear, check out this Time Lapse Video from 2009 Donations. You can also find testimonials from employees of the treatment centers on YouTube.
Thank you for your help.
For more information on the centers, visit utahvalleyfamilysupport.org (Orem), familysupportcenter.org (Midvale), and Family Connection Center (Layton).
The number of teddy bears collected by Bank of American Fork during Project Teddy Bear:
The teddy bears and stuffed animals collected every year are used in play
therapy to comfort children and aid in the healing process for at-risk children
who have been through traumatic experiences. Below are some examples about how the
bears have been helpful.
We received the following
letters from people expressing their gratitude for Project Teddy Bear.
- Three-year-old Tessa Hunter came in with 13 stuffed animals that she, and her sister
Jordyn (age 4), no longer needed. She stood at the base of the tree placing each
animal in the pile, when her Mom took out a cute stuffed dog Tessa began to cry
"not my doggy" but continued to count the remaining animals through her tears. It
was so cute, and although she wanted to keep the doggy for herself she left it there
for another child to enjoy.
- A girl came to the American Fork Branch (name unknown) to donate almost 30 bears
and dolls that had been given to her, a few years ago, while she was battling cancer.
She is now cancer free and wanted to share the bears with someone else who needed
- A mother in LifeStart Village, the Salt Lake Family Support Center's self-sufficiency
and housing project, shared with her case manager that she wasn't sure there would
be any Christmas gifts for her 6-year-old daughter Emily. The mother discovered
that, thanks to Project Teddy Bear, there would be a variety of stuffed animals
available for her daughter to choose from at the Center's Christmas dinner. When
it was Emily's turn to choose a stuffed animal, she gently touched a glossy dark
teddy bear. With wide eyes she asked, "Is this mine? For sure?" Upon being reassured
it really was her's, she hugged the bear to her chest and happily skipped away with
her newfound friend.
- Samantha, another child at LifeStart Village, is seldom seen without her teddy bear
since she received it last Christmas. Last week Samantha brought her teddy bear
into LifeStart Village Director's office. "Will you please watch him while I go
to my Girl Scout meeting?" she asked. The director agreed to babysit.
- In one play therapy session, a child put her abusive father on trial by setting
up a teddy bear court. Using the bears, the child was able to share her feelings
in a safe way.
- Another child was so traumatized by neglect and abuse that he spoke to his therapist
from inside a cardboard box for two years, clinging only to his trusted teddy bear
he had received as a result of Project Teddy Bear.
- Other children have benefited from bears when transitioning between foster homes,
being removed from an unsafe home environment or simply receiving a gift they can
call their own.
- The Family Support Center in Salt Lake County shares their bears or "lovies" with
the Utah Highway Patrol to give to children who are taken from their homes, in accidents
or other traumatic situations.
- The Family Support Center in Salt Lake County shares bears with the Christmas Box
House, which provides temporary shelter and assessment services to children up to
the age of 11 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
- A few days before Christmas, several children from the same family—all of whom were
undergoing therapy for issues related to trauma, received a bear as a Christmas
present. Later that evening, the family was in a serious car accident, though no
one was injured. One little boy held his bear tightly during the accident, on the
way to and from the hospital and while he was examined for injuries. He said, "The
bears kept us safe."
- A five-year-old boy had been in therapy for several months to deal with three deaths
that occurred over a six-month period. The little boy named his bear and takes the
bear everywhere with him. The bear has helped him feel safe, which is particularly
important for a child who has dealt with so much grief in such a short period of
- One impoverished family was using the parent advocate program to learn safe and
effective disciplinary skills. The only furniture in the home was a mattress and
a non-working TV. The bears were used as disciplinary rewards and incentives, as
well as birthday gifts for the children.
- Bears are given as Christmas gifts (sometimes the only gift they will receive) at
the LifeStart Village, a shared community for families trying to get back on their
feet. A blind single mother named Jackie was able to get two bears for her young
daughters. The girls sleep with the bears every night.
- At LifeStart Village, bears are given as prizes and gifts at birthday parties for
moms who otherwise would not have afforded them.
Thank you letter #1
you letter #2 (PDF)
Over the years, we have seen many customers and community members give their time
and money to support Project Teddy Bear. Below are some of the more notable contributions.
- In 2009, the American Fork PTA got involved, collecting bears at all seven American
Fork public schools.
- In 2009, customer Roger Peterson was at the AF branch with his 11-year-old daughter
McKenzie. After seeing the display of teddy bears, McKenzie urged her father to
do something. As the regional sales manager for his company, Roger offered a discount
to all of his customers who participated in Project Teddy Bear. He also contacted
his friend who was the service manager at the Lehi Texas Roadhouse. His friend got
the Lehi and Sandy locations of the restaurant to give away free appetizers for
every bear donated. Additionally, Roger took it upon himself to contact 97.1 ZHT
and got an on-air interview with the morning DJs to talk about Project Teddy Bear.
- In 2008 and 2009, Spanish Fork High School Letterman's Club held a competition amongst
classes to bring in the most teddy bears. They donated over 1200 teddy bears over
the two years.
- In 2008, teenage sisters Elizabeth and Hannah Jones collected 275 bears.
- One family asked its extended family members to bring a bear to their Thanksgiving
dinner to be donated to Project Teddy Bear.
- Nick Madsen from Bailey's Moving & Storage is a vital partner in making Project
Teddy Bear a success. As Project Teddy Bear has grown over the years, we have needed
professional help to transport all these bears to the family support centers. For
several years, Bailey's has provided hundreds of boxes, rolls of tape, a large moving
truck and employees to help load and transport the bears—a donation undoubtedly
valued in the thousands of dollars.
- Kelly Smith and her colleagues at the American Fork PTA organized Project Teddy
Bear drives at all seven of American Fork,s schools. Their efforts have resulted
in hundreds of bears donated.
- Every year, Roderick Enterprises provides a significant cash donation that is used
to purchase hundreds of teddy bears.
- A few years ago, a young child recovering from her own battle with cancer donated
all of her get-well bears to the cause.
You can also view some images or media items from the Teddy Bear Project