About 17 years ago I wanted Mid-State to take a more active role in giving back to the community. We had routinely helped several area charities through either financial donations or volunteer work but I was looking for something that all Mid-State employees could take pride in and call their own.
A client, who worked for a non-profit on the South Shore, told me that they helped to collect teddy bears in their community to give to first responders. They wished they could help more towns, however their resources were limited. They hoped other organizations could expand the program to their own communities. Upon hearing about the program I thought it was a perfect fit for Mid-State. We are in the insurance business and our motto is "individualized solutions" which, as our mission states, provides "peace of mind". It struck me that providing a teddy bear to children in crisis situations would be in alignment with Mid-State's mission and hopefully ease a child's anxiety. Mid-State's, Bears on Board (BoB) program was born.
Over the years, we have collected and distributed over 19,000 teddy bears. Unfortunately, there is a never-ending need. Bears on Board, Inc. is a non-profit organization and I am proud to say that 100% of all donations go directly to the charity. Mid-State employees donate all work associated with the program (collection, bagging, distribution...) and Mid-State along with several corporate sponsors (Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, TD Bank, Plymouth Rock Assurance, Clinton Savings Bank, Mapfre Insurance, to name a few) help fun the annual Teddy Bear Picnic and the purchasing of teddy bears for distribution.
Where have all those teddy bears gone? The Worcester Police Department, Worcester Department for Children and Families, MA State Police Troop C out of Holden and we've delivered to town emergency services from Gardner to Hyannis and Southbridge to Brockton. Lt. O'Connor, a Worcester Police officer - now retired, was an early champion of the BoB program. Lt. O'Conner recalled a story in which a woman had been arrested for shoplifiting and her 6 year-old daughter was with her. The girl was in the police station. "it was on the first times we had something to give to a child," he said. "She fell asleep on our couch with the bear and her thumb in her mouth."
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