Operation Teddy Bear – Educational Inequity

boys reading a book

Operation Teddy Bear is a program that focuses on under-resourced first-graders at elementary schools with a high percentage of children eligible for the Free and Reduced Meal Program as part of the Federal Title One program. The Los Angeles and Long Beach Unified School Districts both report approximately 72% of the enrolled students live at or below the poverty line. Poverty causes many students to arrive at school without adequate educational supplies, hygiene items, or nutrition to begin their day.

Established in 1994, Operation Teddy Bear helps address these challenges by setting an annual goal to distribute literacy school bags to over 4,000 children. Each brightly colored school bag includes reading books, Steam kits, coloring books, learning clocks, paint sets, pencils, math flashcards, a toothbrush, and a Teddy Bear. When the gifts are delivered to a classroom, volunteers also take the time to visit and read stories to the children. The volunteers share how volunteering is important for the community using our self-published “Teddy Beary Tales,” which teaches the children that volunteering benefits both the giver and receiver.

Operation Teddy Bear’s goals are to:
~ Promote literacy and education
~ Support teachers by providing enhancement tools and materials
~ Deliver critical educational tools and materials to under-resourced students

OTBChildStem scaled
Operation Teddy Bear

We work closely with partner schools on educational inequity. The Volunteer Center covers several major school districts:

  • Compton Unified
  • Hawthorne Unified
  • Inglewood Unified
  • Lawndale Unified
  • Lennox Unified
  • Long Beach Unified
  • Los Angeles Unified
  • Torrance Unified 

Each year we deliver bags to more than 45 schools in the South Bay community. To sponsor a school or join Operation Teddy Bear volunteering efforts, please contact our team at info@volcenter.org.

2023-2024 Operation Teddy Bear Program Report


  • Financial donations of any amount can go a long way to continue this vital program and help us expand OTB to reach more students each year.
  • Organizations and groups can volunteer at any stage of OTB (timeline below). Special assembly projects can also be done at your place of business.
  • Organizations can adopt a specific school through financial donations or by donating special educational items to be included in the school bags (quantities should cover a minimum of 150 bags with larger quantities preferred).

OTB 2024/2025 Dates

Activity Type



STEAM Kits & Rek-en-reks

July – November ’24

Volunteer Center or Remote

Packing Bags for delivery

January ’25

Volunteer Center 

Bag Distribution & Reading

Feb & March ’25

(48+) Schools in South Bay

8-count Crayola crayons
Individually wrapped toothbrushes
Primary composition notebooks
Standard orange pencils

VolCenter Map

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