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Despite restrictions, FNB comes through with Project Teddy Bear

THE BAGS OF STUFFED animals donated by First National Bank & Trust for the annual Project Teddy Bear program. From left are Cole Grenier, First National Bank & Trust; Geno Basanese, Michigan State Police; Angela Kurtz, Caring House Child Advocacy Center; Kelsey Bohn, Caring House; Tara Blagec, Salvation Army of Dickinson County; Marcia VanWolvelaere, U.P. Foster Closet of Dickinson County; Jeff Solka, Iron Mountain Police Department; Max Frorenza, First National Bank & Trust.

IRON MOUNTAIN –Since 2017, First National Bank & Trust’s Project Teddy Bear program has donated new stuffed toys to local emergency responders, crisis centers, children’s organizations and medical facilities.

From its inception, the donations were collected from the annual Kingsford High School Flivver Hockey Teddy Bear Toss, followed by collections at First National Bank & Trust branch locations.

With the pandemic guidelines, neither one of those options was available this year, but First National Bank & Trust’s Project Teddy Bear team made sure the organizations that need these toys received them.

This holiday season, First National Bank & Trust purchased 250 new stuffed toys to donate directly to these organizations: Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office, Caring House and Caring House Child Advocacy Center, Michigan State Police, Iron Mountain Police and Fire Departments, Integrity Care EMS, Salvation Army of Dickinson County, U.P. Foster Closet of Dickinson County, Dickinson County Healthcare System Emergency Department and the First National Bank & Trust Adopt-a-Family program.

“It is unfortunate the current environment we are living in does not allow for this year’s annual Flivver Hockey Teddy Bear Toss to occur,” said Matthew Lutz, chief financial officer of First National Bank & Trust.

“After hearing the stories over the last three years from our local emergency responders and crisis center staff about the truly positive effects of handing a child a stuffed animal during an emergency, we knew Project Teddy Bear must still continue. That made our decision at the bank very easy to purchase all of the stuffed animals ourselves ensuring local emergency responders, crisis centers, children’s organizations and medical facilities received stuffed animals again this year,”

Keeping COVID-19 precautions in mind, all of the stuffed toys were sorted and bagged with the Project Teddy Bear team wearing protective face masks and medical gloves.

With this year’s donations, Project Teddy Bear has provided more than 1,150 new stuffed toys to these and other organizations in its four-year history.

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