Over 1,400 pre-k students in Bayonne received teddy bears and visits from representatives of the Bayonne Community Bank (BCB) and the Bayonne Education Foundation (BEF), who read students the children’s book, “Bear Stays Up For Christmas.”
“We were trying to think big this Christmas,” said former Bayonne school district superintendent Patricia McGeehan who also chairs the BEF. “We’ve never done anything like this. It was a lot of work ordering so many bears and taking the time out to visit all these kids. We didn’t know there were this many pre-k students. We knew Bayonne was growing, but we were amazed.”
On December 18, pre-k students at Walter F. Robinson Community School listened as Kelly Ballance, a BCB representative, read aloud “Bears Stay Up For Christmas,” a book about a group of bear friends determined to stave off sleepiness of hibernation long enough to celebrate Christmas.
Students were elated to receive the bears, immediately hugging the plush toys which wore red necklaces displaying the bears’ name, “Tommy Bear,” after BCB President Thomas Coughlin, who read to students the day before.
Teddy bear giveaways and book readings took place for three days, from Dec. 17 through Dec. 20, at every pre-school program in Bayonne, both public and private.
“I loved getting up and reading for the kids. They’re adorable.” said Ballance. “I’m very happy to be a part of this.”
The Bayonne Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that sponsors academic activities such as the Math Olympiad, an after-school basic astronomy program that links NASA at the Bayonne High School Planetarium, an after-school Literacy Enrichment Program, the Reading Café, and awards ten $500 mini-grants to teachers for innovative ideas to enhance curricula.
BCB Bank has been a local business fixture for decades in Bayonne, where it started its first branch. It now commands over $2 billion in assets and is listed on the NASDAQ stock index. The company and the Bayonne Education Foundation have long partnered on various community initiatives.
“Part of the BCB mission is a “Pay it Forward” mantra shared among BCB employees. My employees are entrenched in the communities we serve and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Coughlin. “Through the Bayonne Care Bear initiative, BCB brought back the magic of the holiday season, placing a smile on the faces of our future.”
He added, “Wishing you all a beary happy, healthy New Year.”
Rory Pasquariello can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.