You may have already noticed the plush toys at the till when picking up some Christmas cheer this season.
For the past 25 years, the Share-a-Bear program at B.C. Liquor Stores has supported local charities, and this year is no exception.
There’s also a healthy competition between North and South Peace stores. For over 10 years the Fort St. John location has consistently sold the most bears of any branch in the entire province. Last year that number was around 2,400, and they don’t plan on giving up that title any time soon.
“We’re hoping to beat last year’s,” said Jonathan Castaneto, regional manager for B.C. Liquor Stores. “Fort St. John has historically been number one in the province.”
The Dawson Creek branch said they’ve got some plans in the works to steal that title, but they’re keeping those under wraps for now. “We wouldn’t let that out,” said Corkery. “But we were very close last year.”
As of last Tuesday, the Fort St. John store had sold 660 of the bears. Dawson was actually ahead by a hundred, at 760 on Wednesday.
The program will continue until Christmas Day, or while quantities last.
With each purchase, the bear’s twin will be given to a local community charity, selected by B.C. Liquor Store employees.
The bears go all over the Peace Region. Salvation Army Christmas hampers, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek hospitals, fire halls, Child Development Centres, ambulance services, RCMP Victim Services and Stockings for Kids are just some of the recipients of the toys.
“We even go up to the seniors’ homes [and drop some off there],” said Natalie Corkery, assistant manager at the Dawson Creek B.C. Liquor Store. She said as the bears are dropped off, staff members take them out to wherever they’re needed.
“The Salvation Army [for example] does up their baskets way ahead of time, so it’s nice to get them a bunch.”
This year, the bears are either black or white, wearing red vests with a snowflake on them. Over the past 25 years, more than 757,000 bears have been donated to charities. Last year alone saw 24,000 bears go out province-wide.
Anyone who purchases a bear will be entered to win two large bears from each location.
That will take place Dec. 22.