Christmas bear program brings joy to sick children - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Christmas bear program brings joy to sick children

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Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 3:40 pm | Updated: 1:44 pm, Wed Oct 10, 2012.

Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) members celebrated its 18th year of bringing Christmas joy to children receiving treatment in various medical centers across the state. These dedicated Department of Public Safety (DPS) employees delivered bears and holiday cheer.

The mission of the program is to demonstrate that children are the association's most important responsibility. AHPA collects new stuffed animals all year round for children.

Many DPS Officers keep bears in their patrol cars, so they are always prepared to comfort a child they encounter. Since 1993, the program has expanded to provide the stuffed teddy bears to both children and adults at their bed or road sides. The success is attributed to the efforts and talents of volunteers giving countless hours of their time to make the Christmas Bear Program an overwhelming success.

Generous donations from Arizona's community have helped fund the bears each year. The 2011 program gave away bears to patients in statewide medical centers, domestic violence shelters and hospice locations.

AHPA has dedicated the 2011 program to all police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Arizona alone has lost four police officers in 2011.

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