Come get a holiday hug at the Teddy Bear Suite

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This weekend kicks off a beloved holiday tradition in Edgartown — the Teddy Bear Suite at the Harbor View Hotel. Children and grown-ups alike look forward to seeing the beautifully decorated Captain Collins Cottage No. 20 filled with teddy bears ranging from mere inches to more than 6 feet tall, all decked out for Christmas. Guinevere Cramer, social media and events manager at Point B Realty, organizes the event, and she told The Times a couple of days ago, “We just got the bears out from the cave, and they’ll be temporarily awake from hibernation for the next three weeks.” The Teddy Bear Suite will be open for visitors Friday, Dec. 1, and then Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, fr

om noon to 4 pm. The teddy bears will be around extra hours during Christmas in Edgartown, after they take a ride through the Christmas Parade, of course. On Friday, Dec. 8, the suite will be open noon to 8 pm, on Saturday, Dec. 9, it’s open noon to 4 pm, and then from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, Dec. 10.

Last year the Teddy Bear Suite received a donation of more than 100 stuffed bears, making the event even more spectacular. The history behind all these huggable, lovable bears comes from Wendy Harmon, owner of Point B Realty. She brought the idea with her from Seattle several years ago. There, she explained, a posh hotel, the Fairmont Olympic, had a similar event.

“Our family grew up with it, it was our tradition,” Ms. Harmon said. “It’s a little more stiff, you had to stay behind the velvet rope. You had to get a special key at the desk. It was similar, but different. Here we encourage cuddling, touchi

ng, and hugging the teddy bears.”

The main purpose of the event, Ms. Harmon explained, is to raise funds for the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, especially its Healthy Happy Kids (H2K) program. H2K provides free substantial snack to kids in the afterschool program, free lunch and snack during the summer program, and more. Boys & Girls Club chief executive officer Jessie Damroth says that last year’s donations from the Teddy Bear Suite and the activities that happen along with it raised $35,000, enough to fund the H2K program that year.

“The money directly impacts the club,” Ms. Damroth said. “Healthy Happy Kids launched last September. We offer balanced foods so there’s no sugar spike; we’ve taken a more nutritional stance.”

She also said that the number of children coming to the programs at the Boys & Girls Club has risen by 247 percent over last year. That means the Teddy Bear Suite needs to raise even more money to fund the H2K program. The annual cost is just $20 a year for families to enjoy the club’s varying programs; afterschool programming now includes a soccer club, a camera club, opportunities to work with Island artis

ts, and more.

“Dollars are getting shorter and shorter on the Island, the cost of living is high, rent is high,” Ms. Damroth said. “Our families’ budgets are tighter and tighter. The afterschool program is still $20 from September to mid-June. This is our 80th year on Martha’s Vineyard, we’re one of the founding charter members of the Boys & Girls Club.”

Along with visiting the Teddy Bear Suite, donors can participate in the Teddy Bear Trot on Dec. 10 — it begins at the Harbor View Hotel at 10 am, with a kids’ fun run at 9:45 am. The timed 5K event ends back at the hotel. Last year approximately 100 people participated; the year before that 25 signed up. There are also plenty of raffle options inside the Harbor View, including gift cards from Island restaurants, items from local artists, and jewelry as well.

For more information about the Teddy Bear Suite and other events that support the Boys & Girls Club this season, visit mvteddybearsuite.com.