Monday, June 28, 2010

Giving Back (Build-a-Bear, Huggable Heroes, Zach Bonner, & Donors Choose)

While visiting Build-a-Bear World Bearquarters last week as part of the Build-a-Bear Connect Event, I learned a lot about the numerous ways the company Build-a-Bear both gives back to chartities directly and rewards others for their charity initiatives and outstanding deeds.  It would be an understatement to say I was quite impressed, I was deeply touched.

One of the most notable ways Build-a-Bear aids in charity initiatives is by simply honoring and cele-bear-ating the Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes each year.  Now it’s seventh year, the Huggable Heroes Program is designed to reward youth for their outstanding acts of generosity, volunteerism and leadership.

“This year’s class of Huggable Heroes, ranging in age from 8 to 18, is elevating the bar on giving. Collectively, these dedicated young people have raised funds and collected items valued at more than $22.5 million, and they volunteer more than 650 hours of their time each month. These numbers keep rising as they continue to support military troops, advocate for literacy, raise funds and awareness to help medical advances, help build and fund schools and orphanages in underdeveloped countries, inspire and mobilize other youth from all over the world to help make the world a better place and much more.”

I had the honor to meet a previous Huggable Heroe, by the name of Zach Bonner, and his Mom, Lori, while at last week’s event.  Zach is 12, putting him at about the same age as my second oldest son, Hayden.  Readers may recall that my son Hayden was challenged to do some charity based fund raising of his own about 6 months ago and rose to the challenge raising nearly $400.  Our entire family was so very proud of Hayden and what he accomplished in such a short time.  I can only imagine what life has been like for mom Lori Bonner as her son Zach and his various efforts have raised both awareness and an impressively large amount in charitable donations.

The Little Red Wagon Foundation was founded in April of 2005 by then 7 year old Zachary Bonner.  The main goals for Zach and his foundation are to help homeless youth by providing them with backpacks full of food, supplies and a small toy.  He is committed to helping supply kids in Title 1 schools, foster care, and orphanages around the world with the school supplies they need to succeed in school.  Watch for more info on Zach Bonner soon, “Rudy” and “Hoosiers” Director David Anspaugh is turning Zach’s tale into a movie.

In honor of Zach Bonner’s appearance at the #BABWconnect event, Build-a-Bear gave each of the 25 bloggers in attendance a gift certifcate for $25.00 and I’m asking readers for help in picking a project for mine.  Leave a comment below with your suggestion prior to 11:59pm 7/5/10 and I’ll randomly choose one to designate the money towards.  Thanks in advance for your suggestions and to Build-a-Bear for making this donation possible.

* Please note Build-a-Bear paid for my lodging and travel expenses to visit them as well as sent me home with some fun goodies such as this donorschoose card.

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