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ATB raises $311,000 for children’s mental health

Annual Teddy for a Toonie campaign shifts to online fundraising in 2020

By Aminah Syed 13 January 2021 3 min read

2020 Teddy for a Toonie

The final numbers are in! ATB raised $311,000 for children’s mental health during our annual Teddy for a Toonie campaign.

“Teddy for a Toonie is an annual, month-long fundraising campaign that supports the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and Alberta’s Children’s Hospital in Calgary,” said John Tarnowski, executive vice-president of Everyday Financial Services at ATB. “At the heart of the campaign is a teddy bear, designed and chosen by children in the hospitals each year, that’s sold and raffled at each ATB branch.”

Normally the campaign runs for the entire month of May but shifted to October and almost exclusively online for 2020. Team members had to get creative without being able to gather for barbecues, bake sales and other popular fundraising events at the branches.

“What stands out to me about the 2020 Teddy for a Toonie campaign was the passion our team members showed for supporting the cause despite all the challenges COVID-19 presented,” explained Tarnowski.

The teddy bears—this year a Koala named Koola—were sold online for the first time through ATBMarketplace.com, allowing anyone to purchase the bear. Team members across the province also hosted online raffles and contests and even shaved their heads to raise funds for the cause.

Donations in action

Each year, the funds raised are divided between the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital — with each hospital choosing a specific program, service or equipment that requires funding.

“This year, funds raised through ATB’s Teddy for a Toonie campaign will be supporting Acute at Home, an Alberta Children’s Hospital outpatient program for young people in our community facing serious mental health challenges,” said Saifa Koonar, President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Through the Acute at Home program, children and teens can receive intensive mental health therapy in the comfort of their own homes or wherever is preferable and most convenient for them. Throughout the pandemic, many Acute at Home sessions took place via phone calls or video conferencing, making the program more accessible and convenient for families during a difficult time.

“We are so grateful for our long-standing partnership with ATB. Each year, employees and clients go above and beyond to inspire support for children and families in our community. Even a global pandemic could not slow or stifle their efforts and in a year that has challenged everyone in some way,” said Koonar. “We are thankful ATB remained as dedicated as always to helping the many kids and families who rely on care at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.”

The Stollery Children’s Hospital plans to use the funds raised towards a newly created integrated mental health service within the Stollery Children’s Hospital emergency department.

“This is the only pediatric emergency in northern Alberta. This important investment will boost urgent helpline support to be 24/7, and set up a separate walk-in clinic to improve access to expert care,” said Christy Ravndahl-George, a development officer with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Thanks to corporate donors like ATB, the Stollery can fulfill its mission of making sure we give kids the best chance to live a long and healthy life.”

The 2020 campaign marked the 21st annual Teddy for a Toonie fundraiser, which began as a local fundraiser at just one branch and has evolved into one of ATB’s most important and celebrated annual traditions. More than $10 million has been raised by ATB to date.

“These hospitals are deeply rooted in our communities and you don’t have to go far to find someone who has a personal connection to the Stollery or the Alberta’s Children’s Hospital. And because supporting Albertans and their communities is so important to ATB, raising funds that help these hospitals continue to provide the care they do is something ATB is proud to do,” said Tarnowski.

For more information on the Teddy for a Toonie campaign visit atb.com/teddy.

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