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Parrot Heads gives fuzzy friends

members of the lakes area parrot heads having been handing out teddy bears to hosptial patients and nursing home residents for eight years. It's a Christmas Day tradition the group has, sharing the warmth of the holidays.

For the past eight years, members of the Lakes Area Parrot Heads have spent each Christmas Day distributing teddy bears to hospital patients and nursing home residents in Detroit Lakes.

"We meet at 11 a.m. at the west entrance of the Essentia Health-St. Mary's Hospital," said Parrot Heads president Jim Brogren. "We hand out hundreds of teddy bears to patients in the hospital, and residents of Oak Crossing and Emmanuel nursing homes."

This year, the club raised enough funds to purchase 350 bears for Operation Teddy Bear, as the club project has been dubbed by its members.

"To many, we are their only visitor on Christmas, and the smile on their faces exemplifies the true meaning of the holiday season," said Brogren, who has been a part of Operation Teddy Bear since its inception.

"This year we're even going to have Santa Claus with us," he added. "It brings smiles to so many people's faces ... it's the simplest things, like sharing time with others, that reminds us what Christmas is really all about.

"This project is a club favorite and the highlight of Christmas Day to many -- including myself!" said Brogren.

"After we are done handing out the bears, we gather for some holiday cheer at one of the members' homes."

In addition to Operation Teddy Bear, the Lakes Area Parrot Heads also participate in the Mahube Giving Tree project, in partnership with Zorbaz.

"This marked our eighth year of taking part in the 'Giving Tree' for Mahube, in which we purchase gifts for needy children in the community at Christmas time," Brogren said.

To fund both the Operation Teddy Bear and Giving Tree service projects, the Parrot Heads hold a rummage sale and pancake feed in May of each year.

"Thanks to all in our community that supported us and our projects throughout the year," Brogren said. "It was because of that (support) the Lakes Area Parrot Heads were awarded the 'Golden Coconut' for outstanding community service in 2011 at our national convention."

Brogren also gave special thanks to DL Newspapers, Zorbaz, The Bridge, Holiday Beach Bar and J & K Marine for their continued support. "You rock!" he said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454