Build-A-Bear Huggable Heroes

my worldraising giving children

We hear so many negative things about the youth of today: how childhood obesity is at an unprecedented high, for example, or that almost a quarter of them have used illegal drugs (source). They're faced with so much temptation to disengage from reality through text messaging, video gaming, and the like. Yet I am so impressed by many of the youth that I know who are doing well despite the odds. I want to reinforce their positive efforts.

Build-a-Bear Workshop is providing just such an opportunity. Each year for the past eight years, the Workshop, through its Huggable Heroes program, has searched for and recognized young leaders who make positive contributions in their communities or around the world.  This year, ten Huggable Heroes, between the ages of eight and 18, from the United States and Canada, will be selected and honored for their good deeds.  Each of the ten Huggable Heroes will receive a prize worth $10,000 ($7,500 in the form of an educational scholarship and $2,500 from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to the 501(c)(3) charity of each Huggable Hero’s choice).  In addition, the Huggable Heroes will win a trip for themselves and a guardian to St. Louis, the home of Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters.  During their visit, the Huggable Heroes will meet each other, be honored for their good deeds and participate in seminars and a community service project.  In addition, they will be featured in the 2012 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes Calendar.

“Our Huggable Heroes program was born of the desire to encourage and reward young people to give back to their communities,” said Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear Workshop Founder and Chief Executive Bear. “While the monetary prize provides an incentive, it also represents an investment in both the causes these kids support and their education so they can continue to cultivate their leadership skills and achieve even bigger goals.”

A girl named Alaina P. from Lake Country, British Columbia, was one of the winners last year. She founded Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, an organization that raises funds to educate girls in Afghanistan. To date, she has helped raise more than $137,000 through silent auctions, bottle drives and other events. Isn't it amazing what some kids can do?

An oft-cited quoted of Mother Teresa's is this: "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love." Small actions of service every day add up to charitable habits, which lead to generous lives. Small people doing service, if encouraged and helped, can grow up to be great givers. Hats off to Build-a-Bear's Huggable Heroes program for reinforcing charity as it buds.

If you would like to nominate a youth you know who is between 8 and 18, visit a participating Build-a-Bear Workshop store or go to Love.Hugs.Smiles/HuggableHeroes before February 28th, 2011.

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