COTTAGE GROVE - Collecting teddy bears can be a grizzly business.

Nobody has to tell Trey Wilhelm. He's spent the better part of the summer promoting his

Operation Share-a-Bear initiative.

"It's really tough," he said.

That was him handing out fliers at last month's Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest parade. He said he spent about four hours at the parade before moving on to the vendors at the carnival at Kingston Park.

Wilhelm, 13, will deliver the teddy bears to chronically and terminally ill children St. Paul Children's Hospital. The drive is part of his Eagle Scout project.

"I have a chronic illness and I go to Children's sometimes," he said. "I just want to support kids who do the same."

He met with Cottage Grove Fire Chief Rick Redenius for his help in placing a donation box at the Central Fire Station on 80th Street. People are encouraged to drop off a bear or two.

"I've gone to 136 businesses in Cottage Grove and asked to put up my fliers," Wilhelm said. "The majority accepted."

He's also received help from his fellow Scouts in Troop 907 as well as from the Cottage Grove Lions and their junior members, the Leos.

The teddy bear tally thus far stands at about 50, he said.

Wilhelm created a project website with a P.O. Box for people to send donations, as well as a GoFundMe account. He also provided a link to Amazon, where people can buy and ship teddy bears to him.

He said he'll include a handwritten note on each bear. The project concludes Aug. 31.

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