Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) members are celebrating its 21st year of bringing Christmas joy to children receiving treatment in various medical centers across the state. These dedicated Department of Public Safety (DPS) employees will begin delivering bears and holiday cheer from December 10th through Christmas Day.
“The bears serve as communication mechanisms to help children better understand that police officers are to help and protect them,” state Jimmy Chavez, President of the AHPA. “Witnessing the faces of those receiving the teddy bears is all that one needs to know the program is making a positive difference in many lives.”
The mission of the program is to demonstrate 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.
In 2013, AHPA’s volunteers distributed over 2,500 bears to hospitals throughout the state of Arizona. The 2014 program will give away bears to patients in statewide medical centers, domestic violence shelters and hospice locations.
AHPA has dedicated the 2014 program to all police officers that have lost their lives in the line of duty. According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, as of December 15th the nation has lost 115 officers, up over 28% from last year. Arizona alone has lost seven officers.
Tucson Veteran’s Hospital
Tucson Medical Center – December 22, 2014
KGUN 9 Segment
University of Arizona Medical Center -December 22, 2014
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