Vermonters are bringing hope and comfort to Ukrainian refugees by bringing them the warmth of teddy bears along with supplies to help them move forward as they find their way after evacuating their homeland. According to WCAX, Christine Burych and Nina Meyerhof are working with One Humanity Institute to send these items to refugees at the Polish-Ukrainian border. Facing uncertainty and dealing with the tragedy that has struck their homeland and families, Ukrainian refugees are in need of love, hope, and faith. For children, the situation is especially confusing and heart-wrenching, but the greatest teddy bear factories in America know just how to help.
According to WCAX, Meyerhof shared that their initial goal was to collect 600 bears, but they far surpassed that goal and have collected more than 1,000. The first round of donations came from the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Additionally, they received donations from Build-A-Bear along with monetary donations from the public. The cuddly teddy bears are making their way into the hands of children, and teenagers, at the border of Ukraine and Poland. Meyerhof explained that when a child holds the bear, their mother sees them happy and it “lightens her heart.” Referencing her experience handing out teddy bears at a train station, Burych added that teenagers are even holding the teddy bears close as they need the hug just as much. In addition to sending teddy bears, One Humanity Institute is also giving donations of school supplies from Staples along with duffle bags from Dick’s Sporting Goods to help refugees.
Both the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and Build-A-Bear have initiatives in place to help those in need. Through their “Bears That Care” program, the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory sends support and encouragement to those who need it most. Their mission is in line with “every Teddy Bear’s nature to give you hugs when needed, provide courage when you need strength and dry your tears with warm smiles.” Through their “Hearts ‘n’ Hugs Fund,” the Build-A-Bear Foundation also recognizes the impact a teddy bear hug can have on individuals in difficult times. Donating to those in need around the world, the Build-A-Bear foundation has set a goal to donate 125,000 teddy bears in 2022.
As Ukrainian refugees deal with the challenges of evacuating their homes in the aftermath of Russia’s violent invasion and attacks, people all over the world are stepping up to bring them humanitarian aid and assistance. While many nonprofits are providing supplies necessary for survival, others are adding to that support by reaching the emotional needs of children and their families. A teddy bear’s hug is comforting to a child, which in turn comforts parents as they find relief through that special moment along with knowing that there is good in the world and nothing can extinguish that light.