TAMPA, Fla. -- Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., in Tampa, Florida has a “Preferred Gives Back” program created by CEO and past president of the Florida Collectors Association, David Kelley. Preferred participates in a multitude of charity events throughout the year. This is the first year, however, that they participated in the John Winter Memorial Teddy Bear Round Up which runs from November 24th to December 18th every year. Winter was a Tampa meteorologist for WFLA News Channel 8 and a member of the Rough Riders who often spoke of taking Teddy Bears to children in hospitals during his morning forecast.
The Tampa Rough Riders were formed to preserve the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt and his service with the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry when they fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898. For several years the Rough Riders spent their own money to buy new teddy bears to take to the children in hospitals which later expanded to what it is today. They tend to stick specifically to stuffed bears because Teddy Roosevelt is the name sake for the “teddy bear.” They deliver to many other places and not just children in hospitals but to children living in shelters, senior citizens, cancer patients and wounded warriors at the Haley V.A. Center. According to Tony Bimonte, Teddy Bear Committee Chairperson for the Rough Riders, they pretty much cover every hospital in Tampa, Saint Petersburg and Bradenton that they receive an invite from.
Erin Swartz, who coordinated this first time event said, “Preferred knows that people don’t get sick or need a dose of happiness just around Christmas time so we will work on collecting bears throughout the year for the Rough Riders so we can continue to bless those who are going through a difficult time.” Pictured below are some of the management and staff that collected more than 30 bears for the program.