FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s nearly Black Friday and the Kentucky State Police (KSP) is encouraging shoppers to include a Trooper Teddy Bear on their Christmas list this year. The bears go on sale online Thanksgiving night at 6 and will sell for $15 through the holiday weekend. All proceeds from the sale benefit the Trooper Teddy Project, which provides teddy bears to children in traumatic situations such as a car crash, exposure to drugs, or domestic abuse cases which frequently result in the arrest of a parent.
KSP Spokesman Sergeant Billy Gregory says the Trooper Teddy Project is designed to develop trust between officers and children.
“Oftentimes, we are meeting these children on their worst day,” Gregory said. “Whether they are scared or nervous from the circumstance they are dealing with, the bear seems to immediately resonate with them. That connection builds trust and opens the door to communication between the child and the trooper.”
The program does not utilize state dollars and relies solely on donations and the sale of bears to sustain it, Gregory said.
“Annually, we host a bear sale on Black Friday and then again on Valentine’s Day to raise money for the project,” he said. “We also accept general tax-exempt monetary donations to the project. We remain humbled by the public support for this project. It’s absolutely heartwarming to see the way Kentuckians respond.”
Trooper Teddy Bears will be sold for $15 plus shipping during the promotion. Citizens have the option to pick up their bear for free at KSP headquarters in Frankfort or at any KSP post.
History of Trooper Teddy
The Trooper Teddy Bear Project came to life in December of 1989 after Kentucky First Lady Martha Wilkinson hosted a gala fundraiser at Red Mile Racecourse. The black-tie event raised the needed funds to purchase 2,000 Trooper Teddy Bears. The concept of the program was for Troopers to provide stuffed animals to children during traumatic experiences such as a car crash, child or sexual abuse cases and also distribute to terminally ill children.
The first allotment of bears included a personal note on each stuffed animal from First Lady Wilkinson. KSP partnered with the Indiana State Police with this effort and they, too, passed out Trooper Bears. The program ran out of funding in early 2000 until recently when KSP was able to utilize asset forfeiture funds from criminal drug activity to purchase additional bears. The agency plans to sustain the program by offering the bears for sale to the public.