Landing in the hospital around the holidays isn’t pleasant -- unless you’re a group of United Airlines pilots, flight attendants and volunteers arriving to deliver teddy bears and good cheer to young patients at the Mattel Children’s Unit at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Patients received “Ben Flying” Adventure Bears – which come with their own passports – and then shared their travel experiences, tried on the captain’s hat, and – in some cases -- discussed Santa’s Christmas Eve travel schedule.
“Our visits to Santa Monica are among our most meaningful, because the Child Life staff tells us a little about each child we’re about to visit,” said Sally Campbell, the airline retiree and volunteer who organizes the visits to Santa Monica each year. “That allows us to really connect with them – and have more fun.”
The United Airlines’ “Adventure Bear” program started in 2012, with UCLA Santa Monica among its first hospital “destinations.” To date, more than 58,000 bears have been delivered to needy and hospitalized children worldwide.
United Airlines volunteers are scheduled to ‘fly’ over to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to distribute more bears later this week.