In an effort to raise money to fund the maintenance of an old church in Rayleigh, Essex, England, the church’s caretakers will send hundreds of teddy bears parachuting down from its top on Saturday, according to the BBC.

The event is part of a growing practice in the nonprofit world called “parafauna.” Teddy bear owners temporarily permit their stuffed friends to jump from great heights in order to raise money for hungry families, old buildings, needy children and more.

In an effort to raise money to fund the maintenance of an old church in Rayleigh, Essex, England, the church’s caretakers will send hundreds of teddy bears parachuting down from its top on Saturday. | The Friends of Holy Trinity Rayleigh Essex UK

Why are teddy bears jumping off a church?

Each teddy bear taking part in the church event is sponsored by individual donors, according to the BBC. Most families will lend their teddy bears temporarily, while parachutes are hand-made by volunteers.

The event takes place every couple of years, and it has raised thousands of pounds so far in an effort to keep up the 640-year-old church, the article said.

“It’s a good family event and brings a lot of people to the church,” said Ian Gale, a volunteer, to the BBC. “People bring their much-loved teddy bears, providing the teddy bear is brave enough to jump.”

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While teddy bears always survive the descent, sometime their journeys are more death-defying than others.

When teddy bears go through a tumble, like parachuting veteran Portcullis, they are received by “paratedics” — local school-aged children who perform triage, according to past event participant Mark Francois. Damaged teddy bears then receive “fur-st aid” from the “chief tedical officer.”

“Everyone who attended the day, seemed to have a wonderful time and I would like to thank all involved in organising such a fun and productive day,” said Francois, a member of the Parliament of Wickford, who serves as patron of the event.

In an effort to raise money to fund the maintenance of an old church in Rayleigh, Essex, England, the church’s caretakers will send hundreds of teddy bears parachuting down from its top on Saturday. | The Friends of Holy Trinity Rayleigh Essex UK

Teddy bear parachute jumps — do these happen often?

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While largely a British phenomenon, teddy bear parachute jumps are becoming increasingly popular within the world of charity events.

Also known as “parafauna,” the jumps can raise money for a variety of causes and usually draw significant community involvement.

“The love of God can be shown in many ways,” said the Rev. Tom Birch, who preaches at a church that also practices parafauna charity in Wylam, England, per Hexham Courant. “All people of all ages are encouraged if they can to come and join in the fun.

“Teddy bears do jump at their own risk, and occasionally bears get blown further than expected, stuck in trees or lost,” he went on to say. “It’s probably best not to use your most beloved teddy bear. A previous year, I had a worried father on my doorstep later in the evening asking if we’d found his daughter’s bear because she couldn’t sleep without it!”

In an effort to raise money to fund the maintenance of an old church in Rayleigh, Essex, England, the church’s caretakers will send hundreds of teddy bears parachuting down from its top on Saturday. | The Friends of Holy Trinity Rayleigh Essex UK
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