Saint Leo University is helping the Tampa Police Department this holiday season. Teddy Bears for TPD will provide cuddly critters for officers to carry in their vehicles in order to provide comfort to children in stressful situations.

Saint Leo University’s Tampa Education Center will partner with the TPD to put together a “comfort squad” of stuffed animals. Officers will provide these furry friends to children at crime scenes, in times of crisis, trauma, and other scary situations.

The Tampa Education Center will accept donations of new and gently used teddy bears and other stuffed animals November 9 through December 13. These may be donated 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the center, 1403 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607.

In addition, Saint Leo University will collect teddy bears and other “stuffies” at its residential campus in St. Leo, FL, in Pasco County, and all items will be donated to the Tampa Police Department. The Student Government Union, the Office of Greek Life and Community Engagement, and the East Pasco Education Center are assisting.

A stuffed lion

“We want interactions with the police to be positive for children, even if it’s a scary situation,” said Rod Kirkwood, director of Saint Leo University’s Tampa Education Center. “These donations will allow the police officers to provide something soft for the children to hold during a hard or difficult time.”

Law enforcement officers often encounter children on the scene of a crime, accident, or other situation. “When police arrive on scene, they’re the first people to see children in a traumatic situation,” said Tampa Police Interim Chief Ruben Delgado. “Giving them a teddy bear or a stuffed animal helps calm them. It really makes a difference.”

The teddy bears and other stuffed animals will provide another tool for the TPD to use to diffuse an often anxious and scary time.

For more information, contact Rod Kirkwood at rod.kirkwood@saintleo.edu or (813) 743-3228.