Teddy Bears on a mission Proceeds from silent auction benefit Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children

Grania Litwin, Times Colonist Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008

More than 50 nattily dressed teddy bears -- some looking devilishly cool -- are on display in the lobby of the Hotel Grand Pacific.

The annual display is called Bear Wear and is a source of festive entertainment, while a silent auction also raises funds for the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children.

One bear has a skating rink and comes with tickets to a Canucks game. Another has a playhouse decorated for Christmas, complete with tree and barking dog, while a daring bear comes with a hot air balloon. Each has themed gear, gadgets and accessories, and two bears even come with air tickets to Las Vegas.

Mandy Farmer, whose two-year-old daughter Ginger received vital support from QA in her first months, is a keen supporter of Bear Wear because Queen Alexandra's early intervention program was a lifeline.

"They came to our house to monitor Ginger because she was high risk, premature and only 21/2 pounds. They coached me, taught me how to do baby massage, how to encourage her to roll over. They took away all the stress and worry," said Farmer, who has a demanding job as CEO of Accent Inns and had a baby boy 15 months ago.

"Ginger is fine now -- 100 per cent A-OK, and if I ever have concerns I just call QA and they're there."

The public is encouraged to visit the bears' lair and vote for their favourite, with a suggested donation of $2. Bidding by silent auction begins Saturday and closes at 6 p.m. Dec. 17, with winners taking home their bears.

A teddy bear party for kids is also being held at the hotel Dec. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. Children three to 10 are invited to bring "their favourite stuffed animal and favourite grownup for cookies, milk, activities, entertainment and a visit with Santa," said foundation development director Jennifer Jasecho.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for a first accompanying child and $5 for each child after that. No more than two adults per child. For tickets call 250-386-0450.

The Bear Wear displays are all donated by local businesses, and funds raised go to QA's early intervention program, which supports newborns to age five in Greater Victoria and the south Gulf Islands who have special challenges.

The hotel is at 463 Belleville St.

Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008


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