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Peninsula High School students gather hundreds of bears to send to Ukrainian children

Nearing the one-year mark of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Key Club wanted to remind Ukrainian children that they are loved and supported from afar.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. — This month is the unfortunate one-year mark of the war in Ukraine and some local students want to provide comfort to the children who have been living in chaos. 

Peninsula High School rallied to support a Key Club project to deliver hundreds of Teddy Bears to kids in Ukraine. 

Carolyn Gutmann is an American Sign Language teacher at the high school and says there are unspoken ways to tell someone you care about them. 

“We hope the teddy bears will tell the kids that we are thinking of them and they are not forgotten,” said Gutmann. 

She’s also an advisor to Key Club, a service organization that’s connected to Kiwanis. The Key Club decided to launch Operation Teddy Bear with a goal of collecting 500 bears. 

Key Club member Alec Krishnadasan says even his classmates are impressed with their results. The students collected more than 700 bears with hundreds more coming by way of anonymous donations.

“I’m so proud of Key Club and all of the drives we coordinated and the bears we collected,” said Krishnadasan. 

The students worked with the community and the Kiwanis Club of Gig Harbor to collect the bears and raise the money to ship the bears more than 5,000 miles away. 

Kiwanis President Jeni Mallory says she’s never seen students more driven. “It stole their hearts,” said Mallory. 

Operation Teddy Bear is wrapping the bears with Ukrainian-colored blue and yellow ribbons with a personalized message, in Ukrainian, telling the recipient that they are loved and supported with the school and location on the back. 

The students posed for pictures with hundreds of bears before packing them to be shipped out to their contacts in Ukraine. 

Gutmann says her students supporting other kids is important soul medicine. 

“People out there care and we’re thinking of them and they’re not forgotten,” she said.

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