The season of giving is here – which means it’s time for the Tampa Rough Riders’ annual “John Winter Teddy Bear Roundup!”

Every year, the Tampa Rough Riders collect new, unused Teddy bears to distribute throughout the Tampa Bay area. According to the Rough Riders, the bears will go to hospital patients, foster children, cancer survivors and their families, community health centers, special needs day care centers and centers for abused women and children.

The annual roundup is named after John Winter, the late WFLA meteorologist who was a member of the Rough Riders and used his platform on Channel 8 to talk about Teddy bear donations. As a result, people donated thousands of bears. WFLA has been a proud partner of the Rough Riders and their Teddy bear roundup ever since.

The 2021 “John Winter Teddy Bear Roundup” is underway now through Dec. 20.

Drop-off locations:

The WFLA News Center
200 South Parker St.
Tampa, FL 33606

Regions Banks
Bank locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties

Why Teddy bears?

Stuffed animal bears were named after Theodore Roosevelt when he was President of the United States.

The Tampa Rough Riders were formed to preserve the memory of Roosevelt and his service with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment when they fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898. That regiment was called the Rough Riders.

The Rough Riders believe the annual Teddy bear roundup is a fitting way to remember the influential president.

Who was John Winter?

John Winter was a meteorologist at WFLA for 13 years and a member of the Tampa Rough Riders.

For several years, the Rough Riders spent their own money to buy Teddy bears to donate throughout the community. When Winter put the word out on TV, viewers started dropping Teddy bears off at WFLA.

Winter died in 2007, but the effort to round up Teddy bears didn’t stop and WFLA renamed the effort the “John Winter Teddy Bear Roundup.” The collection and distribution of bears has grown every year since.

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