Contra Costa Times Article
Alamo: Boy runs teddy bear charity
By Caterina Mellinger Correspondent
ALAMO — Six-year-old Bobby Redman, of Alamo, bounds into the California Highway Patrol office in Martinez, beaming. “Look what I have,” he announces to people gathered in the small waiting room with heads bent, focusing on paperwork.
But all were soon smiling at the happy boy showing off a CHP medallion, his excitement a bit of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day. Bobby is an active boy who enjoys karate, tennis and most recently Little League Baseball. However, what sets this precocious and inquisitive kindergartner apart from most other kids his age, is that Bobby has a foundation named after him: Bobby’s Bandaid Brigade — business that brought him to the CHP station this day.
Bobby is actively involved in the philanthropic organization that started when he was just four years old and a local Boy Scout placed a bag in the family’s mailbox, asking for donations of slightly used toys for an orphanage in Mexico.
“The bag had the name of the orphanage on it and with a little digging, we found a video on YouTube of people delivering toys,” said Bobby’s father, Mark Redman. “We showed Bobby the video and then asked him if he had any toys he would like to put in the bag to help the boys and girls in the video and with a huge smile he started digging in his toy box,” added Redman.
That would make any parent proud, as were Mark and his spouse, David Redman. However, after filling the bag, this budding philanthropist then went on to create a large pile of even more of his toys and asked his parents for another bag to fill.
“Bobby said he wanted to see the kids open his toys and to see them smile. I could not have been more proud at that moment,” said Mark Redman. Yet, many more proud opportunities would follow. The Redmans, realizing that Bobby had outgrown many of his toys, discovered the same to be true in other households.
“When we checked in with other parents of Bobby’s classmates, they were more than happy to donate,” said Redman. Bobby hosted his first charity drive at their home on May 5, 2012, where he collected surplus toys and other children’s items. “We found a local charity organization with a ‘saint’ who runs it. Her name is Gaby Ghorbani, founder of Pledge to Humanity, who agreed to have the toys delivered to the orphanage and take photos of the children opening the toys,” added Redman.
They have chosen Ghorbani to host the annual “by invitation only” events held each year in early May for all of Bobby’s friends.
“That list continues to grow,” said Redman, “from his first day care friends, then preschool friends, friends from his various sports and now his kindergarten classmates will be invited to the event this year,” said Redman. Last year they collected more for the same orphanage as well as other charities listed on Pledge to Humanity’s website,www.PledgeToHumanity.org.
The CHP is also grateful for Bobby’s Bandaid Brigade. Redman learned from a friend who is a CHP officer that the CHP “Chipper Bear” program had lost funding and they were running out of teddy bears for patrol cars.
“I would have never thought there was a need for something like a teddy bear in a CHP vehicle. However, oftentimes an officer is the first one to the scene of an accident, and my friend told me the bears offer a little comfort to small children,” said Redman, adding that California has more than 6,000 CHP vehicles, with 1,200 as first responders.
“After many months of buying sample bears from every manufacturer in the U.S., we found one with the perfect size at an affordable cost if we buy in bulk. So we went door to door with Bobby collecting for the cause,” said Redman, adding that the response has been amazing.
So, last week, when Bobby, his father and Ghorbani stopped by the CHP office in Martinez to assist with the packaging of the bears, Officer John Fransen greeted them and escorted the trio into a room where bulging boxes of bears were lined against a wall as numerous CHP Senior Volunteers were busy at work, placing the bears into bags with a “Chipper Bear” book for a total of 1,200 bears, enough for one in each first responder CHP vehicle in all of California.
Bobby set his treasured medallion aside to help gather some bears. As they were helping, Redman asked his son why they were doing this.
“To help little kids feel better after an accident,” said Bobby.
Officer Fransen expanded on Bobby’s explanation: “In the case of an accident where a parent is nonresponsive or worse, kids are safely placed in the back of a squad car until someone can arrive on the scene to be with that child. These bears have proved invaluable in offering a little bit of comfort and security until that help arrives.”
Redman said that their new goal will be to get enough funding to supply each CHP vehicle with two bears this upcoming year.
Ghorbani has faith that Bobby’s Bandaid Brigade will come through, thanks to the organization’s tenacious namesake. “I have worked all over the world with a lot of teens and young adults who want to give back to those in need, and they are wonderful, but to see someone so young care about others, is the sign of a true star,” exclaimed Ghorbani.
“Pledge to Humanity works with local public schools on multiple service projects locally and globally, from leadership groups, student councils, to wonderful young little guys like Bobby and his wonderful cause. I am so proud of him,” added Ghorbani.