ST. LOUIS (June 26, 2013) – The Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes® program started with the company’s idea to share the stories and the hearts of young people who are working to make a difference in their communities, their schools and abroad. This year’s 10th class of 10 Huggable Heroes joins the ranks of over 100 young social entrepreneurs and community service leaders doing their part to make the world a better place. Since 2004, Build-A-Bear Workshop has recognized more than 12,000 children through the program and awarded $1 million to the most charitable-minded youths in the country. Collectively, the Huggable Heroes have recruited thousands of volunteers, gathered 316 million items, and raised more than $9.7 million for their causes.
“The Huggable Heroes are social entrepreneurs in their own right, whohave done incredible things to help others and we have given each of them $10,000 to help them do more. Investing $1 million in these kids has been extremely rewarding with a high social return because of their passion and imagination,” said Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop. “I never could have dreamed how the program would grow to be what it is today ten years later. We have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful children who are truly my heroes.”
In honor of the 10th birthday of the program, Build-A-Bear Workshop is joining with the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, one of the nation’s top community service recognition programs, to provide the 2013 Huggable Heroes with ongoing training and mentoring. Through the Jefferson Awards’ GLOBECHANGERS system, this group of young philanthropists will be equipped with the tools they need to build a lifetime of public service.
“We are excited to announce our Huggable Heroes this year and recognize their efforts to make a difference,” said Sharon John, Build-A-Bear Workshop chief executive officer and chief president bear. “This year, we are thrilled to provide our Huggable Heroes with training and mentorship opportunities through the Jefferson Awards GLOBECHANGERS program, which will help grow their efforts globally.”
From providing backpacks of food for refugee children, to recycling musical instruments for low-income school programs, to supporting active duty soldiers and veterans across the nation, this group of young social entrepreneurs has gone above and beyond to help others. Collectively, they have raised more than $310,000 and collected 80,893 items to support worthy causes. The 2013 Huggable Heroes have also:
- Collected 50,000 books to promote literacy, written two books and published a magazine
- Shook the hands of more than 14,000 troops and sent 2,000 lbs of care packages to deployed soldiers
- Collected almost 4,000 pairs of shoes and 8,000 pairs of socks for kids in need
- Put together 2,000 backpacks of food for U.S. refugee children and 1,360 backpacks of school supplies for those in need
- Educated more than 2,700 mentors on disability awareness and created programs for 150 special needs children
“We are already impressed by the Huggable Heroes and are eager to get started on further developing each of their unique projects,” said Sam Beard, philanthropist and co-founder of the Jefferson Awards. “We are confident the 2013 class of Huggable Heroes will evolve into terrific future leaders.”
In its 10th annual search for Huggable Heroes, Build-A-Bear Workshop received more than 1,000 nominations. Entries were narrowed down to 80 semifinalists in March and to 30 finalists in May. The 10 Huggable Heroes were selected in June to each receive $10,000, which includes an educational scholarship, a donation to a 501(c)(3) charity of their choice, and a mentoring scholarship to participate in the Jefferson Awards for Public Service GLOBECHANGERS program. In July, the Huggable Heroes will travel to St. Louis where they will be honored for their good deeds during an award ceremony, as well as participate in a GLOBECHANGERS boot camp. Following are the 2013 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes and their stories.
2013 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes
Adele Taylor, 17, Williamstown, NJ
Adele started Adele’s Literacy Library (ALL), which promotes a love for reading and journey towards literacy proficiency. Adele’s Literacy Library donates new books and bookmarks to schools, daycares and hospitals. Through the organization, Adele launched the Read All You Can program, which has been implemented in every elementary school in her community. With help from partner organizations, Adele’s Literacy Library built a solar powered learning center in Kenya equipped with 4,000 books and 20 computers.
Cody Jackson, 10, Alpharetta GA
Cody, nicknamed the One Boy USO, has made it his mission to support active duty and veterans across the nation, as well as to help children learn about patriotism. He has visited the airport to greet troops, sent more than 2,000 pounds of care packages to deployed troops and has personally shaken hands with 14,000 military members. Cody has written two books to teach kids about patriotism and uses the proceeds to purchase supplies for care packages.
Garland Jones, 16, Marietta, GA
Garland founded Back-N-Pack in effort to help alleviate childhood hunger by providing backpacks filled with food to refugee children and families on a weekly basis. The project has served more than 2,000 refugee children in Pre-K through fifth grade and their families. These families represent more than 60 different countries and speak more than 52 languages. Garland has raised $4,500 and provided 15,000 pounds of food to help feed these families.
Jasmine Babers, 17, Rock Island, IL
Jasmine founded Love, GIRLS Magazine (Love stands for Lead, Overcome, Value and Empowerment), a nonprofit organization that serves as an outlet for teens to write editorials about self-esteem related topics and social issues in effort to combat bullying. The magazine is published four times a year and produced by a team of writers and photographers ages 13 -19.
Love, GIRLS Magazine is free to the community and is distributed in libraries and high schools. Jasmine has raised more than $20,000 and recruited more than 60 volunteers in Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee to be part of the Love GIRLS Team.
Jonas Corona, 9, Long Beach, CA
Jonas founded Love in the Mirror, which has helped homeless people in the local community by providing food, clothing and personal hygiene products. The organization has enlisted more than 300 people to help, fed 16,000 people and collected more than 8,000 pairs of socks and 600 toys.
Jonny Cohen, 17, Highland Park, IL
Jonny started the GreenShields Project which designs aerodynamic add-ons for school buses in effort to increase gas mileage and save money for schools. He partnered with Northwestern University’s Ford School of Engineering to test and design the GreenShield. Jonny and his team have perfected a product that will help schools save money and have raised $38,000 for their cause.
Kayla Tinucci, 17, Newhall, CA
Kayla founded The Shoe Crew, an organization that provides new athletic shoes for kids in need. Striving for a goal of providing new shoes for every child at an underprivileged center in Los Angeles, Kayla recruited 25 friends and began hosting community events. Through these events and many sponsors, The Shoe Crew has collected 4,131 pairs of shoes and enlisted 30 volunteers to help the cause.
Katy Dolan, 16, Liberty Lake, WA
Katy founded a nonprofit organization called Life Enhancement Through Education in Music (LETEM). Katy collects used musical instruments from the public and repairs them for free through a unique partnership with a local music store. The instruments are then distributed to low-income children and low-income school music programs. LETEM also provides clinics about instrument instruction and holds instrument drives at various community events to promote the cause.
Riley Gantt, 12, Sherman Oaks, CA
Riley started Rainbow Pack, an organization dedicated to providing elementary school students with the supplies they need to be successful learners regardless of economic circumstance. Riley was inspired by a visit to a local elementary school where she noticed some of the kids did not have basic school supplies and students often do not do their homework because they lack the necessary tools. The Rainbow Pack has collected more than $14,000 in donations and has supplied more than 1,300 backpacks full of supplies to students at a local elementary school.
Zachary Certner, 16, Morristown, NJ
Zachary founded Special Needs Athletic Programs (SNAP, Inc.), a nonprofit organization designed to inspire youth to work together through athletics, peer mentoring and educational programs. SNAP's goal is to raise awareness about the impact students can have on the lives of children with autism and other disabilities. Zach has raised more than $80,000 and has created after school programs for special needs children and student mentors across New Jersey.
About Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc.
Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is the only global company that offers an interactive make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience. There are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico and South America. Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop is the leader in interactive retail. Brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball® mascot in-stadium locations, and Build-A-Dino® stores. Build-A-Bear Workshop extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award winning virtual world Web site at bearville.com™. The company was named to the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list for the fifth year in a row in 2013. Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) posted total revenue of $380.9 million in fiscal 2012. For more information, call 888.560.BEAR (2327) or visit the company's award-winning Web site at buildabear.com®.
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About the Jefferson Awards for Public Service
The Jefferson Awards was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard as the “Nobel Prize for public service.” Named for one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the Jefferson Awards’ central tenet is that each and every citizen shares a responsibility to work towards the betterment of their communities through economic participation, public service, volunteerism and other such efforts to improve life for all. Today, the mission of the Jefferson Awards is to recognize, inspire and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces and across America. As President John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference and every person should try.” To date, over 50,000 individuals of all ages have been recognized by the Jefferson Awards for their efforts to make the world around them a better place. For more information on the Jefferson Awards, visit www.JeffersonAwards.org.