TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The annual “John Winter Teddy Bear Roundup” is in full swing for the Rough Riders in Tampa, and a local school got involved in a big way this week with a huge donation.
The Teddy bear was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. The Rough Riders in Tampa were formed as a social and civic club to honor the memory of Roosevelt and the original Rough Riders who fought in the Spanish American War in 1898.
Each year the Rough Riders take new Teddy bears to children in hospitals, veterans, senior citizens and to people recovering from cancer.
For the last two years, much of the effort has been put on hold due to the pandemic. This year, the Rough Riders are once again collecting and delivering Teddy bears in the community.
Students at Madeira Beach Fundamental School donated more than 1,000 Teddy bears to the Rough Riders on Monday.
“I have a tremendous community and the children are involved, but so are their parents,” Principal Chris Ateek. “Several of our students made donations of their own money to purchase bears, or secured donations from businesses to get bears.”
Seventh-grade student Blaise Geier used his own Christmas money to donate a large number of the bears.
“Honestly, I had some leftover Christmas money from the Christmas before and I had like $200 dollars and I was like I’m probably not going to use it for my own personal being this year,” said Geier.
Fifth-grade student Genevieve Latto donated more than 100 Teddy bears.
“Me and my family raise chickens and we sold about 13 dozen eggs, plus extra donations and we bought 108 bears with the money,” Latto said. “I feel like that during the holiday season, we are so excited to get our own toys and stuff that there are other people who maybe are having a hard time.”
The Rough Riders are still collecting new Teddy bears until Dec. 20. If you would like to donate, WFLA has a list drop-off locations.