HCN News & Notes

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates More Than 1,000 Stuffed Animals to Charitable Partners

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation announced a donation of more than 1,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to local charitable partners, the culmination of a successful drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas and held on Dec. 12 outside the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.

This week, the Thunderbirds’ mascot, Boomer, along with staff members, made deliveries of hundreds of stuffed animals to Square One, the Center for Human Development (CHD), the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield.

“Our holiday celebrations are looking much different this year, but the Springfield Thunderbirds have proven that, with a bit of creativity and careful planning, the children in our community can still experience the magic of the season,” said Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communications at Square One. “We are so grateful to [Thunderbirds President] Nate Costa and the entire Thunderbirds community for keeping the tradition of the Teddy Bear Toss alive. Our children will be overjoyed.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Teddy Bear Toss event was much different than in previous years. Instead of tossing the bears onto the ice after the T-Birds’ first goal during a home game in December, fans brought their new teddy bears or stuffed animals and ‘tossed’ them out of their vehicles as part of the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss at the MassMutual Center. Boomer, the Nicebox Icebox, and front-office staff were present to collect donations and properly package and sanitize them. Those that couldn’t make it that day also donated at the Thunderbirds office, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas in Chicopee, the Springfield Visitor Center, or at New Valley Bank’s headquarters in Monarch Place in downtown Springfield.

“The T-Birds and their loyal fans have again stepped up to bring holiday joy to children and families receiving services in CHD programs across Western Massachusetts,” said Ben Craft, CHD’s vice president of Community Engagement. “We deeply appreciate the Thunderbirds organization’s partnership and strong commitment to our community, and we can’t wait to get back to the arena to cheer them on when it’s safe to do so.”

The Thunderbirds thank their partners that stepped up and were able to make this event a reality, including Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, Balise Auto Group, Western Mass News, the Springfield Business Improvement District and downtown Visitor Center, New Valley Bank & Trust, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as their tedd- bear delivery partner, BMW of West Springfield.

“We are amazed and grateful at the outpouring of support for the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss” Costa said. “Teddy Bear Toss is a staple event for the Thunderbirds, and our fans came out in full support. We can’t thank our fans, partners, and those that donated to our foundation enough to be able to bring smiles to children at this time of year.”