With the back to school frenzy coming to a more predictable routine, finding time to have special family moments and make memories is important. Our weekends are usually packed with fun family activities, and a trip to Build A Bear is always a suggestion from my 5 year old. We have been visiting Build a Bear for special occasions since she was just under 2, and the friends she creates at Build a Bear are always special in their own little way. She loves that she can help fill her bear with magic by placing a heart inside before sewing takes place. The customization options make each friend unique and specially tailored for your child.
Disney Princesses are a big deal in our family. With two little girls who are enamored with everything Disney (just like their mama) it’s no wonder why they are attracted to Palace Pets. I love that Build a Bear carries my daughter’s favorite characters and she can customize them with the optional accessories. Summer, Rapunzel’s kitty, came to join our family on my daughter’s 5th birthday. It was a special day and one that will be remembered each time Summer is played with. Summer at Build a Bear has fun accessories with can be purchased separately online or at your local Build a Bear store, including an adorable sparkle dress, tiara, shoes, and bows. Each friend you make at your Build a Bear store includes the experience of making a new friend, stuffing your pet, brushing, and preparing to bring them home. This also includes making a certificate which includes the name of your new friend and the name of the person who is making them (your child.) There is also a Bearville online community for older kids to join, where their pet can come to life and they can play and take care of them.
You can find out more about Build a Bear by visiting their site. You can also join their online communities where you can stay in the loop on new character or friend offerings, coupons, and promotions. Check out Build a Bear on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Also, if you haven’t heard about the Huggable Heroes program, check it out: Since 2004 Build a Bear has worked with local communities in awarding over 100 young volunteers who have collectively raised over $10 million and gathered over 300 million items for their causes. Over 12,000 kids were nominated, but these 10 made a great impact on their communities in 2014:
2014 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes
Zachary Abel, 14, Sewickley, PA
Zachary is a former Make-A-Wish recipient who created Make A Move for Make-A-Wish – a bike, walk and run event to support wish kids in his community. Now cancer free, Zack organized the Make-A-Wish fundraiser to give back to the organization that granted his wish for a T-Rex Dinosaur statue for his backyard when he was ill. To date, Zack has raised more than $65,000 for Make-A-Wish and helped grant 16 wishes for children battling cancer.
Michael Bervell, 16, Snohomish, WA
Michael started an organization called Hugs for Ghana to mobilize students in his community through volunteering, fundraising, and collecting in-kind donations. In 2013 and 2014, he organized two Ghanaian culture night fundraisers in his community and collected more than $12,000. Additionally, Michael partners with a range of organizations and dozens of schools to organize donation drives that have garnered more than $20,000 worth of sports gear and collected nearly 4,000 books, all to benefit Ghanaian youth.
Daniella Cohen, 16, Highland Park, IL
Daniella founded GIVE, a letter writing exchange, to promote cultural understanding and education. GIVE pen pals learn to empathize and interact with a different culture that they otherwise would not have been exposed to. GIVE has sent thousands of letters and flip-flops, signed with messages of hope, to schools in India, Uganda, Rwanda, Israel and Iraq. Daniella has also spearheaded an effort to provide Internet service and laptops to students in Uganda.
Sarah Gordon, 16, Portland, OR
Sarah’s passion for learning led her to motivate adolescent girls in her community to come together to raise funds and awareness for teenage girls around the world. Sarah brought the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign to Oregon. Girl Up gives American girls the opportunity to support UN programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls through education and inspiration. Thanks to Sarah, there are more than 200 students volunteering for the six different chapters of Girl Up in Oregon.
Izzi Hickmott, 16, Brighton, UK
Diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 10, Izzi became eager to share her experiences to help others. In addition to supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) through fundraising, Izzi has supported other young people with Type 1 diabetes by becoming an advocate in the Houses of Parliament. Additionally, Izzi has collaborated with local Council officials and representatives from the National Health Service to put in place relevant and proper support for young people with T1 diabetes in schools.
Kylie Kuhns, 17, Mifflinburg, PA
After losing her sister to leukemia in 2005, Kylie wanted to help other children and families diagnosed with cancer. She founded Kelsey’s Dream, and recently developed and introduced Hopper the Cancer Crusher, a fluffy green frog play therapy toy for children undergoing cancer treatment. To date, the play therapy toy has been delivered to 24 hospitals throughout the nation, with a goal of distributing Hopper the Cancer Crusher to all pediatric oncology hospitals across the U.S. Kelsey’s Dream has mobilized 400 volunteers, raised approximately $265,000, and produced 8,000 therapy play toys to date.
Rachel Ley, 17, Stevens Point, WI
Rachel started Literacy for Little Ones, an early literacy program that encourages parents to read to their infants and provides book packages to newborns’ families. What began at Rachel’s local community hospital in 2009 has expanded to four additional hospitals in Wisconsin, one hospital in Minnesota, and one hospital in Nicaragua, impacting approximately 520 infants per month. Thus far, Literacy for Little Ones has distributed book packages to 7,400 families, and has over 700 volunteers.
Brodie Meredith, 13, Walsall, UK
Brodie and family launched Livvy’s Smile, a charitable endeavor in memory of Brodie’s sister Livvy. Livvy’s Smile’s mission is to create memory making days for children with disabilities, together with their families. Brodie does many things to help Livvy’s Smile including coordinating events and sending mailings. In addition to her own time and effort, Brodie inspires friends to fundraise and challenges them to support children with disabilities.
Casey Sokolovic, 16, Winterville, NC
Casey inspires at-risk students to get involved, raise awareness and learn the plight of the world’s sea turtle population through STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) environmental camps. She also hosts a year-round community calendar of learning and service activities. Over the last three summers, the camps have provided 340 at-risk youth opportunities to participate in STEM-focused, nature activities. In total, Casey’s efforts have raised more than $350,000 to help fund these camps and calendar of activities.
Alexis Werner, 18, Pittsburgh, PA
Alexis created an organization called Seeds of Hope, which provides relief for veterans and their families affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through Seeds of Hope Alexis has planted 15 self-sustaining gardens nationwide, to provide veterans and their families access to fresh and healthy produce. She has also created a children’s book about veteran appreciation, and a documentary that describes the psychological effects of war.
For more information, please visit buildabear.com/huggableheroes