Emery Bear Drive collects stuffed animals for children at Phoenix Children’s Hospital


Saydria Ostler

Students at the Homecoming Football Game gather for the annual Emery Bear Drive bear toss. The donated bears are then laundered and delivered to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The Emery Bear Drive is a part of Team Emery, a non-profit organization that works “to provide hope and encouragement to those in need.” The drive collects new teddy bears and stuffed animals in order to donate them to local hospitals and charities. 

The Drive first came to Perry in 2013, when freshman Emery Miller proposed the idea of starting the bear drive, with the help of the baseball team. 

“It’s something he did in all the schools he went to, starting in elementary school,” said Baseball coach Damien Tippett. 

Emery first began doing bear drives in 2011, when he was in 5th grade. He had been in and out of hospitals throughout his childhood due to needing multiple heart surgeries and wanted to pay it forward one Christmas by donating a single teddy bear to a sick child. Since then, the Drive has grown into an organization located in 14 states and has helped more than 62,000 families. (https://www.teamemery.org/

As the baseball team got to know more about Emery, their involvement in the drive also grew. The drive grew so large that it soon became too much for baseball alone to handle. National Honor Society joined forces with the baseball team in order to help the drives run smoother and gain more momentum. “What NHS does is a lot of the behind-the-scenes administration work, paperwork at the front office, the announcements, without them it would be much more difficult,” said Tippett. 

As a tradition, the Bear Drive holds a “bear toss”, where those in the stands are allowed to throw their stuffed animal donations onto the field. This year is no exception, and the annual bear toss is being held at the homecoming football game on October 22. Donation bins are also available in both the cafeteria and the front office. 

After the bears are collected at the football game, “they launder all the bears before they give them to the children,” said NHS Member Christine Burboz. Making sure that the bears are properly washed, especially after being collected from the football field and the cafeteria, minimizes the risk of spreading sickness or germs to those kids in the hospitals. 

This year, the Emery Bear Drive is being held earlier than usual. “The drive is usually held later in the year, around thanksgiving time,” said Tippett, “NHS had a great idea to try and link it up with homecoming.”  

When planning the Emery Bear Drive,“[Homecoming’s] gonna be so busy, senior nights happening, all these big things, but we managed to get it in there,” said Burboz.

Due to the large number of students, staff, parents, and families that will be on campus this week due to the homecoming carnival and football game, holding the Emery Bear Drive a little earlier than normal will be well worth the increased turnout. “I’m really proud of all the different people that came together,” said Burboz. 

One of the most gratifying aspects of the Emery Bear Drive for those who donate bears is that “It’s nice to know you had an impact on their day even though you’ll never see it and you’ll never meet them,” said Tippett. 

Collecting the bears and running the drive as part of NHS has, “been a tradition every year and it is very close to our heart,” said Burboz. 

Although donors never get to see the bears delivered to children, the baseball team takes “8 to 10 cars, stuff them with the bears and take them to the hospital,” said Tippett. 

The donated bears are then delivered to Phoenix Children’s hospital, one of the largest children’s hospitals in the nation. This year Perry collected 397 bears for the Emery Bear Drive.