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USF students volunteering at the hospital
by Lisa Greene on Friday December 4, 2015
Have a Bear and a Smile

Teddy bears arrived in the Children’s Medical Center Friday afternoon and everything got a little bit cuddlier.

“I love it,” said patient Juliana Garcia, hugging her new bear. “I think it’s cute.”

That’s the reaction that Jaz-Mein Ojetunde was hoping for when she volunteered for bear delivery. Ojetunde, 19, is a pre-nursing student at the University of South Florida.

“It was such a rewarding experience,” she said. “I want patients to see that there are people out there who care about them.”

It’s those moments that make her want to be a nurse, she said.

“Nurses make everything better,” she said. “I want to be the person who’s in touch and caring for the patient.”

This is the fourth year that USF nursing students have delivered bears to patients at local hospitals during the holiday season through the College of Nursing's BEARS program, or Bulls Encouraging and Assisting through Research and Scholarship. The bears arrive in their own custom boxes and wear USF College of Nursing uniforms.

At Tampa General on Friday, the delivery crew included USF College of Nursing alumni and several  undergraduate pre-nursing students like Ojetunde. Leslie Lockett, USF nursing instructor and team coordinator at Tampa General Hospital, was hoping students would find those bonding moments.

“I think it’s neat to invite the pre-nursing students as well,” she said. “They can see what it looks like, what kind of joy it brings, and what kind of difference it can make in a patient’s day.”

“Besides,” she added, “Who doesn’t love giving a kid a bear?”

University of South Florida nursing students, from left, Lauren Reckart, 19, Jordan Morris, 19, Marissa Lotfy, 18, center, and Payton Barrington, 19, deliver stuffed bears to patients at the Children’s Medical Center Friday.
University of South Florida nursing students, from left, Lauren Reckart, 19, Jordan Morris, 19, Marissa Lotfy, 18, center, and
Payton Barrington, 19, deliver stuffed bears to patients at the Children’s Medical Center Friday.

University of South Florida alum and Tampa General Hospital nurse Janel Canty, left, talks to Juliana Garcia as nursing students and alumni from USF visit TGH to deliver custom panda bears to patients in the Children’s Medical Center on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.
University of South Florida alum and Tampa General Hospital nurse Janel Canty, left, talks to Juliana Garcia
as nursing students and alumni from USF visit TGH to deliver custom panda bears to patients in the Children’s Medical Center on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.

Pre-nursing students and nursing alumni from the University of South Florida visited Tampa General Hospital to deliver custom panda bears to patients in the Children’s Medical Center.
Pre-nursing students and nursing alumni from the University of South Florida visited
Tampa General Hospital to deliver custom panda bears to patients in the Children’s Medical Center.

This is the fourth year the B.E.A.R.S. program, Bulls Encouraging and Assisting through Research and Scholarship, has delivered stuffed bears wearing nursing uniforms to TGH.
This is the fourth year the B.E.A.R.S. program, Bulls Encouraging and Assisting through
Research and Scholarship, has delivered stuffed bears wearing nursing uniforms to TGH.

The stuffed bears delivered Friday are wearing USF College of Nursing uniforms.
The stuffed bears delivered Friday are wearing USF College of Nursing uniforms.

- Photos by Daniel Wallace, Tampa General Hospital News, December 4, 2015