Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Creating a furry friend at Build-A-Bear Workshop is already an enjoyable activity, but it’s even better when the animal-making is for a good cause!
On May 14, elementary school students from St. Aloysius in Harlem, along with area military families and their children, gathered at New York City’s flagship Build-A-Bear store in partnership with the USO. The group made bears on behalf of the organization (who will send the stuffed animals to additional families) and got to take home some furry friends of their own, as students and families received store gift cards from Build-A-Bear and the USO, respectively.
Robbie and Brittany Bergquist, the 2009 “Huggable Heroes” and founders of the nonprofit Cell Phones for Soldiers, were also present at the event. “We provide cost-free communication tools so that the military members can call home for free,” Robbie says. “To date, we’ve been able to provide more than 204 million minutes of free talk time and have been able to raise more than 12 million dollars and recycle over a 11 million cell phones.”
Their organization does not send actual phones overseas; rather people can donate used devices at over 6,000 locations across the country or via mail. The brother and sister pair then receives funding from a recycling company that allows them to purchase calling cards.
The Bergquists began this initiative in 2004.”We have two cousins who are active-duty military,” Brittany says. “At the time we founded this organization, our cousin, who’s a chaplin, was deploying into Bagdhad, and we had an incident very shortly after where we had no communication with him,” she explains, noting they did not hear from him for several weeks. “We had no idea if he was safe or not.” She adds, “We realized that we never wanted to go through that ourselves and we never wanted any other families to have to go through that either.”
Want to nominate a Huggable Hero of your own? As Build-A-Bear notes, “Our annual Huggable Heroes program supports a wide range of causes and champions un-bear-lievable efforts of young people who are making a difference. The 2014 Huggable Heroes will each receive a $5,000 educational scholarship and $2,500 to be donated to the cause of their choice.” The deadline for nominations is June 12, and more information is available here. “Working with Build-A-Bear has been a dream,” Brittany said. “The platform that they give to young people who are doing good in their communities is amazing, and this new ‘Every Moment Counts’ program and recognizing and celebrating heroes is right up our alley.”
It’s easy to support the USO’s efforts–for every message of gratitude that includes the hashtag #babwUSOthanks, Build-A-Bear will donate $1 to the organization until June 30.
(Photo courtesy A.E. Fletcher Photography)
Got a bear lover in your family? Try out this cute craft!Add a Comment