Pfizer employees patch up teddy bears for children


Executives from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer took time from their desks on Tuesday to operate a toy workshop.

The workshop, called “Rescue Bear,” took place at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Pfizer employees as south as Florida and as north as Canada attended.

Daniel Galarza, senior hospital sales representative at Pfizer, said he hopes the children who receive these bears will remember Pfizer in the future.

“The kids will be happy. They know a little bit more about our company, and what we do for them,” Galarza said. “We’ll give them the bear, and one day they will find out that the drugs were made by the same company that has given them the bear that they kept close to them at night.”

Pfizer’s goal was to create 200 bears to donate to the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at RWJUH for pediatric patients, said Maria Queri, communications director for Pfizer Injectables.

The project was the brainchild of Senior Executive Assistant for Pfizer Ann Czarcinski who said she wanted to give back to the community.

“Though this reinforces the bonds of our company, it’s really for the children and the pediatric patients of Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital,” she said.

Czarcinski proposed the idea six months ago after looking for a good team-building idea in the area of New Brunswick. Because her own personal experiences at RWJUH were positive, she decided to visit the medical facility once more.

But the Leaders Institute, a group that specializes in leadership training, planned the project, said Craig Wagganer, the senior instructor for the Leaders Institute. His group researched how many bears to create and the demographic they were to reach.

The Leaders Institute handled the logistics, he said.

“This is another exciting year for us,” Wagganer said. “More and more companies are doing away with the standard office parties for the holidays and instead [they’re] opting for team-building programs with a philanthropic element to them.”

Employees were grouped into separate teams of three, four or five people. They were presented with questions and challenges, ranging from Sudoku to trivia questions. The more questions they answered, the more parts they received to build the bear.

“We had to answer some trivia questions,” said Mark Steward, Pfizer employee from Florida. “It’s fun, good team building and it’s for a good cause.”

This team-building activity helps strengthen the teamwork capabilities of the company, Czarcinski said.

One employee may know the answer and he or she must network to share the answer — it is a good way to foster teamwork in a positive and fun environment, she said.

“This is our first philanthropic project on a scale and scope like this,” she said. “What I’d like to know is how we do something like this again. How do we give back to the community?”

Czarcinski was pleased with the large turnout of people who could make it to the event, with over 400 employees working together for the cause.

Bill Kennally, regional president of Pfizer’s North America Established Products Business Unit, said the event served multiple purposes, including being a national meeting ground in New Brunswick for the company.

“It is part of our strategy to raise company morale, and at the same time share a bright vision with the hospital for the kids. It’s more about team building — it’s about learning and caring,” he said.

The bears will be distributed to children during the holidays — primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kennally said.

Galarza, impressed by the enthusiasm of his fellow employees, said he hopes to not only continue this event further, but also to take it up a notch and make more toys.

“We want to show that we do more than sales. Even though our sales make a change in other peoples’ lives, other activities such as philanthropy make a difference,” he said.

Albert Bourla, president and general manager of the Established Products Business Unit, said employees participated because they felt the need to give back.

“In helping and giving back, we strengthen the bonds in our company,” he said. “We want to let the children and people know that Pfizer isn’t just about sales — it’s about taking care of the community.”

Peter Haigney, director of Public Relations at RWJUH, said the hospital is becoming a major transport destination for children, so operations that involve pediatric care and children’s rehabilitation are located in the central New Brunswick area.

Haigney said the hospital is extremely supportive of programs like “Rescue Bear” and Dance Marathon, a separate event corroborated by University students that raises money for disadvantaged children.

“Though this event is not directly affiliated with Rutgers, I’d like to say that philanthropic efforts like the [Dance Marathon] and the ‘Rescue Bear’ project do not go unappreciated,” he said. “It’s the 10th anniversary of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital and this is a great way to commemorate that.”


By Adam Lowe

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