State Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency visited DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa Wednesday to gift 20 children in the hospital teddy bears for Christmas.

"We all have families, and we love seeing kids' eyes light up when we come in the room," said Lieutenant David Steward, President of the Alabama State Trooper Association. "It's sad anybody has to to be in the hospital, but more so at Christmastime especially if you're a kid. There's obviously so many things kids are missing this time of year."

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This tradition was started decades ago by the Alabama State Trooper Association, where Troopers at different posts would deliver the bears to hospitals across the state. Steward said in his past 25 years with the ALEA, he's visited DCH each year.

"It's an event our guys look forward to every year," he said.

The Troopers delivered approximately 20 bears to patients at the hospital Thursday. Members of the media were able to watch the Troopers deliver a bear to a young girl in her room, who will be turning three years old on Christmas Eve.

"[The kids] are shut up in a hospital room, with the restrictions in place since the COVID pandemic haas come through. They're not allowed to go to the play rooms like they use to, they're not allowed to have as many visitors," said Jennifer Fair, a nurse at DCH. "So to be able to have that little ray of sunshine, to say 'hey, somebody recognizes me...' it's special."

Steward reminisced on several calls and letters he's received from parents and children alike, saying how appreciative they were of the Troopers and remaking on the impact of the visit.

"There was a kid here several years ago on the verge of passing. He ended up surviving and was carrying his bear even when he got out of the hospital, which was around two weeks later," Steward said. "I got a phone call from the parents of what that meant to him to have a room full of troopers with him. It touched me."

The bears were made possible through donations to the Alabama State Trooper Association. Steward said anyone interested in contributing can visit the Alabama State Trooper Association website.

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