For Robin Stauffer’s English classes, it has been a bear of a season. When Stauffer, a Seven Lakes High School teacher, first decided to hold the teddy bear drive for the local Joe Joe Bear Foundation in Katy, students from her eleventh grade Advanced Placement classes agreed to help and donate. What was initially a few stuffed bears has become a mountain of plush animals, which the foundation will donate to children undergoing treatment for cancer or other life-threatening diseases to area hospitals.
The foundation was created and named in honor of Joseph David Ordaz, who passed away March 10, 2009, after a long battle with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia at the age of 24. Joe endured two bone marrow transplants and while preparing for the second, he asked to hold a teddy bear while alone so he could feel like someone was always with him. The nonprofit organization collects only new bears for children, who due to weakened or no immune systems cannot accept gently loved stuffed animals, so they, too, can have a friend even when no one is around.
“I started the bear drive because I wanted to do something for all the children and their families who will spend the holidays at the hospital instead of at home,” Stauffer said. “I also wanted to set the example for my students that it is indeed far better to give than to receive. I hoped my students would participate, but I never imagined how this small project would take on a life of its own.
“My students have really stepped up, and I know their generosity will mean so much to every child who has a bear to hold,” she said. “Many of the students also wrote a brief personal note to the child and attached it to the bear’s tag.”
Stauffer has so far collected more than 100 plush bears and animals for the Joe Joe Bear Foundation and plans to deliver them tomorrow, Dec. 21. For more information, please contact Robin Stauffer at RobinRStauffer@katyisd.org.
Seven Lakes High School English teacher Robin Stauffer sits near a pile of more than 100 plush bears in her classroom. She and her classes collected the bears to donate to the Joe Joe Bear Foundation in Katy, which benefits children undergoing treatment for cancer or other life-threatening diseases.