I AM BEARY THANKFUL TODAY AND ALWAYS

November 24, 2011

Zendaya is a great addition to the BABW Float in 2011. A big fan!

It’s that time of year again- when the air turns cold and people from all over the world come together to celebrate the Holidays. Although the season comes much earlier in retailing, I have always felt that Thanksgiving truly kicks off the festivities. And what better way to start a month of celebrations than with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
This is the 10th year that a Build-A-Bear Workshop Float has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I can’t believe it! It seems like just yesterday we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Teddy Bear with the first Build-A-Bear Workshop float in 2002. In years since, the float has evolved with our company but continues to spread smiles down Broadway in true Build-A-Bear Workshop style.

This year, our huggable mascots Bearemy and Pawlette Coufur, arrived in Herald Square with their international furry friends to celebrate the wonder of the holiday season along with Disney star Zendaya. The International Teddy Bear Float celebrates everyone’s favorite childhood friend, the Teddy Bear. The Build-A-Bear Workshop float commemorates the lovable Teddy Bear because a bear hug is understood in any language!

Our partnership with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is just one example of how Build-A-Bear Workshop makes 1 + 1 = 10. This philosophy has been a part of Build-A-Bear Workshop since the very beginning, as we always seek to identify companies that share our passions and can provide added value to our Guests.
Like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Build-A-Bear Workshop has formed similar partnerships with the NBA, the NFL, Disney and Warner Brothers and more. Most recently, we joined with Fox to bring Make-Your-Own Alvin and Brittany from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked! to Build-A-Bear Workshop! These adventurous friends will be a hit and prove that we can achieve more when working together.

I would like to end, as is tradition with Thanksgiving, by sharing what I am thankful for. The list is long, but today I am reminded most of all of the people in my life who have helped to make Build-A-Bear Workshop such a success. I would not be where I am today without the inspiration of teachers and mentors, the support of family and friends, and the dedication of Build-A-Bear Workshop associates and Guests. So, as we each celebrate the holidays in our own special way around the world, I would like to take a moment to thank YOU for making my holiday special. I wish you the beary best for a happy holiday season, and may it be shared with the best of friends!

Hugs to all,
Maxine

DREAM THE DREAM SUPREME

November 22, 2011

One of our best moments at Build-A-Bear Workshop was the creation of Holly and Hal Moose. My two favorite antlered siblings, Holly and Hal Moose, are back just in time for the holidays! You may remember when “Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” first aired on television nationwide two years ago. For Build-A-Bear Workshop®, this was the first time that our stuffed animals were brought to life in an animated feature film. This season, we welcome Holly and Hal back to TV, airing on the Hub TV Channel Tuesday, November 22 at 1pm EST and Sunday, November 27 at 9am EST.

“Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” is one of my favorite holiday stories because it tells the tale of an unlikely sibling pair who work together to save Christmas. Their journey is an inspirational reminder to always follow your dreams-no matter how big they may seem.

Holly Moose the level-headed inventor, always helping her younger brother on his latest adventure.

Much like Holly and Hal, I too dared to dream big and the result was Build-A-Bear Workshop. When I was growing up, my family told me I could be whatever I wanted to be- no matter what! That mentality stuck and I have always been a dreamer. Originally, that dream was to be a lawyer. I only took my first job in retailing to save up the money to go to law school. Of course, while at the May Department Stores Company I found my true calling. Several years later, when I left Corporate America, I still didn’t know what company I would create but I never stopped dreaming the dream supreme.

I am reminded of a quote I once saw though I could not find the name of the writer–it guides me today:
“If you can live your imagination, your life will be a dream come true.” My life is a dream come true!

Each of us are born with certain gifts that help us turn talents into passions and develop our own worth ethic. It starts by believing you can truly achieve whatever you set your mind to. Many people get so caught up in what they can’t do that they don’t know about how much they can accomplish. Focus on the positives. You alone are responsible for creating your own success, so don’t let outside forces limit your possibilities. I never put restrictions on my vision, nor did I let the way others made or sold stuffed animals stand in my way. Instead, I allowed myself to dream of this unique business going from one store at the Saint store at the Saint Louis Galleria to something that could be as huge as I thought it could be. My dream eventually came true, and yours can to – believe in yourself.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all those people that inspired me to be all that I can be. As the holidays draw near, let Holly and Hal be your inspiration that anything you dream is possible. Be sure to catch “Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” on the Hub TV Channel to relive their exciting journey filled with friends and fun. You can also buy the DVD online at buildabear.com or at a local store that sells DVDs! I know I will be watching as this dynamic duo once again let their imaginations run wild to create the perfect Christmas adventure.

Heartfelt Holiday Hugs,
Maxine

P.S. A special thanks to Mrs. Adams, my inspiring high school journalism teacher who taught me the power of imagination and believing in yourself. Your determination and creativity is a very special part of Holly Moose!

THE BIG IDEA: THE BIG RETURN

November 8, 2011

November 7, 2011

Over the years, I have often written about young people who inspire me – especially those who are recognized as Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes. Last week, I had the privilege of working alongside Talia Leman, one of our 2007 Huggable Heroes, and meeting hundreds of motivated, inspiring kids from across the St. Louis region who have that Huggable Hero sparkle in their eyes.

Thanks to a BIG idea from Talia, on November 3, Build-A-Bear Workshop hosted nearly 200 students and teachers from 34 area schools for The BIG Return Summit to discuss important community issues and brainstorm solutions. Each school walked away with a tangible project that will help tackle these issues head-on. And because the projects are led by young people, as Talia says, there will be a BIG Return. Talia was recognized as a Huggable Hero for starting RandomKid, an organization that empowers kids to solve real problems by joining other youth who have the drive to change the world. Through her work, Talia found that youth can turn charitable donations into a 200 – 1,000 percent return for a cause because of their determination and drive. She says that because young people don’t know what isn’t possible, they can think and act more creatively.

The BIG Return leverages the power of youth to make big changes in the world, and those big changes are happening right here in St. Louis. Talia has brought together St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and other community leaders to challenge the community to support these efforts – and guess what? Change is happening.

It’s this type of “sky is the limit” thinking for social change that motivates me and inspires me to run Build-A-Bear Workshop in the manner we do. It’s always been part of our mantra to give back to the communities where we live, work and play and we love helping energize young people to do the same, and to become venture capitalist for social good.

Last Thursday was an important day for Build-A-Bear Workshop, Talia, the participating kids and the St. Louis community. My hope is that this idea of The BIG Return turns into an even BIGGER project – not just for St. Louis – but for the entire nation. Build-A-Bear Workshop hosted the first-ever BIG Return Summit in St. Louis – where will it go next? Chicago? Dallas? Los Angeles? What other cities will step up to the plate and rise to the challenge? I know the energy is there because I saw it from the youth, and it’s contagious.

And who knows? Maybe one of those kids sitting in that very room with us last Thursday will be in the next class of Huggable Heroes. Stay tuned as Huggable Hero nominations for 2012 begin in January.

Kids have the answers to the world’s problems, if we listen! I look forward to hearing about the projects these kids undertake and the differences they make in our community and the world! I know our St. Louis youth will become role models for other youth across America as they carry out the mission of The BIG Return.

Hugs,
Maxine Clark
Chief Executive Bear

ITS A WINNER!

October 30, 2011

It is no surprise that I would write about the inspiring run of our St. Louis Cardinals—after all I live in St. Louis and we believe win or lose, this is baseball heaven. This was even more true this year as we saw our Redbirds come from 10 1/2 games behind in August to win the World Series in 7 nail biting games on October 28, 2011. St. Louis fans are not usually fair weather but this year I had a lot more people tell me they had not attended a game than usual. And while our sales held up at Busch stadium thanks to the diehards, we could see attendance slipping just a little. We all needed some magic.

What is more magical than animals? Yes, even the Cards can be influenced by furry friends. We have a store in Busch Stadium if they need one close by to hug, but this came from a real live furry friend—a squirrel who just needed more time to collect his acorns and food scraps and wandered into the stadium to give the Cards some encouragement. “We need more games,” he seemed to say as he was shooed away. It worked!! Rally Squirrel as the fans named him was just what the doctor ordered to shake things up. His determination to go live in Busch Stadium was contagious and the rest as they say is history. The fans started cheering and the players got the message:
If a squirrel can make it to homeplate, so can you!

Of course there is more to winning the Wild Card berth, the NLCS and then the World Series than the motivation a fuzzy, grey squirrel can provide. Like in any business it takes uncommon leadership, plan, a team—24 players + Albert Pujols, determination, encouragement and yes, just a little bit of luck too. The Cards had all that plus a great story.

The Ace-Chris Carpenter
The Utility Man- Allen Craig
The Hometown boy- David Freese.

The Cardinals have given the world something to think about and learn from—giving up is not an option. You have to come to the plate every time as if this is the last. It all matters and there are no sure things—no guaranteed job. Lemons can become lemonade. Change is good and it takes hard work. Thanks David Freese for reminding us that dreams do really come true and being from St. Louis is an honor.

The American dream is alive in well in St. Louis, Missouri (home of Beer, Baseball and Bears) aka Baseball Heaven, USA.

Hugs,
Maxine

WHERE EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR NAME

October 2, 2011

I have the good fortune to be asked to speak to various groups around the world about the wonderful business we have created at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Many of the groups are college or grad school students, associations, businesses and schools. I always ask the question: “How many of you have ever been to a Build-A-Bear store before?” Always, especially as we have gotten older and more well known, the vast majority have been to one of our stores. I am always happy to see a few hands not go up—that means we have many new Guests to acquire and inspire!

This weekend I spoke at two events—one on Friday at Edward D. Jones, a local Fortune 500 company in the investment business. I was the closing speaker to their Diversity and Inclusiveness week and today, Sunday, I was the opening speaker for day 2 of a meeting of the National Association of Country Club managers. Both were different audiences and for different purposes but my message is the same—DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO.

Both groups wanted me to speak on how I came up with the idea of Build-A-Bear Workshop and how we have grown the company over the 15 years to be an international company with over 400 stores. The story is simple: I allowed myself to dream and I am a big believer in dreaming big. I grew up in a time when all kinds of impossible things were being invented every day like heart transplants and astronauts on the moon and Disneyland so there was nothing to keep me from thinking,” I could do that.”

Before anything else, being an entrepreneur takes a big idea and big passion. Then the real work kicks in—the dynamic and ever-changing business plan, the money, the talent, the sleepless nights, the fear and ultimately the implementation of your vision. The easiest part is the idea—ideas are a dime a dozen. It is all in the implementation… the coming together of all the details that delivers your business brand to the consumer. Ray Kroc didn’t invent hamburgers and Howard Schultz didn’t invent coffee—they invented how to sell it their way, sell more and be better. That is the same for us. We didn’t invent teddy bears or factories that make them. We added a special twist—how to make your own special furry friend close to home that is totally personalized to you, for you or for someone you care about. Choose Me, Hear Me, Stuff Me, Stitch Me, Fluff Me, Dress Me, Name and Take Me Home has become a mantra for children (and children at heart) for almost 15 years and soon we will have sold our 100 millionth stuffed animal! WOW!! That even exceeds my imagination.

Both Edward D. Jones and the Country Club Managers have a lot in common with BABW—they are both in the service business and they both believe in adding value through personal care. I call it the Cheers Method. Remember the TV show Cheers starring Ted Danson as Bar Owner and Manager, Sam Malone? For 11 years Sam taught us the power of friendship, of belonging
because at Cheers, everyone knew your name. That is how it is for Edward Jones for the Country Clubs across America and for Build-A-Bear. Our success is accomplished by not being cookie cutter but by being personal. Helping our Guests create a once in a lifetime experience that separates us from the competition. It is what we all want as human beings, to be recognized and appreciated and accepted for who we are.

Thanks to all of our Guests who continue to share with me their personal experiences, their furry friends and for taking the time to remind me that EVERYONE MATTERS and that a business, even a large one, can stay connected to its Guests and grow from those Guests and their word of mouth, when it sees it as a mission vs a task. A special thanks to Edward D. Jones and the Country Club Managers Association for inviting me to share my story and for sharing yours. You made my week!

Hugs,
Maxine

SCHOOL DAYS DEAR GOLDEN RULE DAYS!

August 28, 2011

It’s Back to School time again it may be my favorite time of year. I loved school as a child and to this day I enjoy the time when families’ attention turns to school. My own school day memories are very special. Many of my teachers are still dear friends today.

Maxine & Marlene Adams--my high school journalism teacher

My mom used to make our clothes and she would spend the last few weeks leading up to school opening getting my sister and I ready—we always had the cutest clothes but it was important in those days that people thought your clothes all came from a local store. My Mom was incredibly talented—she made the clothes partly because it saved our family the money and because we were small and as we got older, dressing our age was harder to do. Mostly she made our clothes because she loved to sew—it was her private time, her chance to be creative. I would sit with her at night and watch her sew up a storm and we would talk—it was also our time together. When my mom passed away in 1972 I rescued her sewing supplies and many of her outfits handmade and detailed by her. I have boxes of thread and buttons and patterns that still have her special scent—a combination of her cologne and her favorite cigarettes—sadly,Chesterfield was the tobacco brand. I have raided the thread and button boxes many times looking for the absolutely perfect size button and/or thread and color for a jacket or blouse.  The threads are still strong and the buttons often collectors items! The clothes hang in sealed garment bags and make me smile every time I come across them—still classic and beautiful. If only they fit!

Maxine in 4th grade in her favorite red dress!

Last Sunday I went to see the movie, The Help, with 2 girl friends and I was brought back to those days in the 1960’s that had such a strong influence on me—the days by my Mom’s side that taught me about personal freedom, the right to choose and the equality of people and most of all, the value of a good education to take you to a brighter future.  Luckily for me even though I grew up in the same tumultuous times The Help portrays, I was taught a different sensibility and a respect and kinship with people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

After the movie I had to do an errand at Walgreen’s and I wandered to the busy school supply section. More memories—having to have a certain kind of notebook and pens.  Today the stores have lists to help parents but in my day that was our job, the kids—we went to school and had to write it all down and be sure to have it when the teacher asked. It was simpler times for sure—not as many choices and perhaps more standardization between schools. I wandered the aisles at Walgreens and picked up a few colorful notebooks and had to buy some new pens and a pencil case for my briefcase. It was a truly simple pleasure.

When my friend’s kids were younger we would count the days until school and even decide way ahead of time what the kids would wear. As they got older they invited me to book day to pick out school books and supplies. I have to say that while they may not have been as eager as I was for the start of my school years, they all looked forward to school, their friends and the learning ahead.

Of all the values taught by my parents, the value of a good education was not lost on me—in fact it is why and how I do what I do today. Without that encouragement from my teachers and my family, I would not have had the benefit of a college degree and the success I have achieved. I am the product of a public education from 1st grade through college. I never take it for granted. Today I spend as much time as I can engaged in improving public education. Trying to bring the schools in St. Louis up to what is needed for our kids to succeed in the 21st century. It is laborious –it is such a complex issue, but it is a labor of love. Building a system of good schools is my dream for our community. Being a living breathing example of what a quality education can do to change one’s life, I want the same for the children in St. Louis.

There is much polarization on the subject of public education especially public education in the urban core ofAmerica’s cities. It is a subject that will bring out passion that is for sure. For me it is certainly about passion—passion for rebuilding our community and about providing a quality educational opportunity in EVERY zip code inSt. Louis. It is much easier said than done!

St. Louisis a classic story of migration out of the cities, declines in the tax base and the opportunity for kids to have choices. This has left the St. Louis Public Schools, in terrible shape.

In 1967 when I graduated from High School in Coral Gables, FL, SLPS had over 115,000 students registered in its district. Today, that is about 25,000 give or take a few thousand. In 1967 they had about 90 neighborhood schools serving about 1300 kids per school and today we have 66 schools serving about 380 on average. Too many schools and many travel way out of their neighborhood to attend classes to a school they think will help them grow. Sadly, too few are able to do that. The schools fall far behind the state and local suburban schools in test scores and with the economic downturn of the last few years, annual budgets are cut drastically. Having gone through many superintendents, today our able leader, Dr. Kelvin Adams has some tenure. He just started his 4th school tear and the schools have stabilized.

St. Louis is also a city with a growing number of public charter schools and one I helped bring to St. Louis—KIPP Inspire Academy. Today we serve about  270 5th, 6th and 7th graders in a renovated church school building that had been closed down. Our staff, many of which were Teacher For America Corps Members who taught in  SLPS, is  dedicated to being sure that our KIPPsters will graduate from the 8th grade on or ahead of their grade level and ready to enter a high performing high school to prepare then for college or their secondary education they need to fulfill their dreams. Not all public schools or charter schools are created equal nor do they serve the same children but we are one that is making progress—our 6th graders had gigantic improvements in math and communication arts over their 5th grade tests. When you look at the performance of children on the Free and Reduced lunch program our kids scores are sky high,  and actually far surpass SLPS and many suburban schools as well. We are proud of our KIPPsters and their families and our teachers—it DOES take  a village.

I remember a song—“School days, school days, dear old golden rule days…” It is true—time to give education back to kids as you would have education given to you.

Love, hugs  and smiles to all,

Maxine

I LOVE MARCH !

March 11, 2011

It is officially March—my favorite month for birthdays and basketball! This year is destined to be the best March ever. We are all gettting better not older, right??

As most of you know, one of the reasons I started Build-A-Bear Workshop was to be able to give back to others. I have always believed that good people, doing good work, with a good heart, will reap great rewards. I have been so fortunate in my career to have been given great opportunities and in my life to have met and developed friendships with so many wonderful people.

Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are beginning a wonderful new partnership. Starting this month, we will roll out “Cause for Celebration” parties at Build-A-Bear Workshop where our Guests can be a party hero and make a beary big difference in the lives of the children of St. Jude.

I always listen to our Guests. Many of the company’s best ideas have come from them. About six years ago, we had a writing contest. A young woman and one of our dearest BABW friends still today named Kelsey Sheifen won the contest and her prize was a trip to New York City and a chance to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. At the time, Kelsey was battling cancer and she was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Partly because of Kelsey, we learned about St. Jude and the amazing work they do. It was the first of many subsequent stories that we heard about this place where kids with life-threatening diseases are cared for with the most advanced forms of medical treatment.

This past January, I had the incredible opportunity to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital located in Memphis, Tennessee. I toured the facilities, talked to some of the best doctors in the world, and met inspiring families who had traveled near and far with the same goal in their hearts- to go home cancer free.

I was deeply inspired by one family that I met. This young patient, Anthony, was a huge Build-A-Bear Workshop, fan and had received our stuffed animal friends throughout different stages of his treatment. In his eyes, I was a celebrity. But to me, he was a superhero. Despite a challenging diagnosis, he still had courage in his eyes and hope in his heart due to the world class care and treatment he is receiving at St. Jude. The healing hugs of his Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friends of course helped a lot, too. In this young man, I saw what a difference a teddy bear hug can really make. I know Anthony will have a long and prosperous life because he values every single day!

My friend Anthony and his wonderful family

Our partnership with St. Jude was inspired by our Guests’ passion for giving. When a Guest books a “Cause for Celebration” party, they will make a ten dollar donation that will support life-saving research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to the Guest’s $10 donation, Build-A-Bear Workshop will give a St. Jude patient a gift card to experience the fun of making a new furry friend for themselves. After all, we’re experts at providing teddy bear to children in need of a hug!

Each party attendee will sign a special St. Jude card that will be sent to a St. Jude patient. That card will help cele-bear-ate a patient’s completion of treatment or reaching a treatment milestone. Party attendees will also receive a sticker to remember the occasion, and the Guest of honor gets a bear-sized tee shirt that says “I helped the children of St. Jude” for all the party attendees to sign.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Guests in the United States will be able to make a donation to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital when they check out in stores or online at buildabear.com throughout the month of March, and Guests in Canada will be able to make a donation by purchasing a purple satin heart.

I am so thrilled about this new partnership and to provide even more hugs to children in need. We have the power to make a difference in the lives of so many children.

You all know how much I love birthdays and no matter how much older I get, my birthday is still a special day for me too! A few years ago I celebrated my birthday by having all my gifts go to classrooms through donorschoose.org. This year on Monday March 7, I celebrated my birthday at our New York Fifth Avenue store with my friend Marlo Thomas, daughter of St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas, and the spokesperson and national outreach director for St. Jude. Together, with local children and some very special young guests from St. Jude, we will announce our partnership to the world and our NEW party program.

I have always believed in sharing and helping others – I learned about this from my parents at a very young age. Encouraging the next generation of givers and empowering them to make a difference starts at home. I encourage parents reading this to turn their child’s next birthday party into a “Cause for Celebration”. Show them how good it feels to help someone else! Moms want easy ways for their kids to learn to share, give back to give back and make a difference, and kids want to help other kids.

“Cause for Celebration” parties are not just for birthdays. There are hundreds of reasons to celebrate . If your child’s class or scout troop or even your work team is looking for a way to give back, a “Cause for Celebration” party would be an incredible experience and memory for all. Or if you know someone who has accomplished something special, whether adult or child it can be a cause to celebrate. So – surprise someone with a celebration for life and help the children of St. Jude!

One thing I have learned from my  friend Anthony is every day on this earth is a cause for celebration!

Love, hugs, smile and of course celebrate,

Anthony and his furry Koala friend.

Maxine

LOOKING FOR UN-BEARLIEVABLE YOUNG PEOPLE!

February 2, 2011

It is appropriate that my first post of 2011 is about leadership because that is what this world craves no matter whether you are –in the USA or the Middle East or Latin America. Our young people are setting a new bar and we must rise to it! I also want to dedicate this post to Christina Taylor-Green the young woman who lost her life in Tucson in January while meeting with her Congresswoman. Christina was an inspiration to all who knew her. While I did not have the privilege of ever meeting Christina , her story resonated for me and reminded me how precious life is and how important it is to listen to the wisdom of our children.

February is Youth Leadership Month, a PAWFECT time to celebrate young people who take on leadership roles within their communities and beyond. I travel the world over and I am always inspired by the young leaders I meet along the way who are changing our world one smile and one bear hug at a time! Through our Huggable Heroes® program, Build-A-Bear Workshop recognizes and encourages young leaders who provide extraordinary service in their communities and around the world. The eighth annual search for these special people is now on! Anyone, ages eight and above, is eligible to nominate a candidate through February 28 (and kids can nominate themselves) by visiting: http://www.lovehugssmiles.com/HuggableHeroes.aspx or by picking up an entry form at participating Build-A-Bear Workshop stores.

From the thousands of entries, our expert judges will narrow the field down to 75 semi-finalists in March and to 25 finalists by the end of April. Ultimately 10 new Huggable Heroes will be selected to join other amazing youths from the previous seven years of the program. Each 2011 Huggable Hero will receive a $7,500 scholarship toward their college education and a $2,500 donation from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to a charity close to their heart. 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. Additionally, the winners will receive a trip to Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters in St. Louis to meet and celebrate their accomplishments with fellow Huggable Heroes.

Throughout the years, we have heard thousands of amazing stories of young people who do things both big and small to help improve the lives of others. Their stories inspire me and make me smile. Some of last year’s Huggable Heroes included young leaders like: Charles from Castleton, New York, who started Literacy Education for All People, a multi-year initiative to help reduce illiteracy and increase literacy education and awareness on local and global levels. Alaina from Lake Country, British Columbia, who founded Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, an organization that raises funds to educate girls in Afghanistan. And Melissa from Mililani, Hawaii, United States, who is president of Kids Helping Kids with Diabetes, an organization that educates, raises funds for research and provides support services to people with Type I diabetes. 

As my friend and 2010 Huggable Hero, 11-year old Ashlee, who founded Ashlee’s Toy Closet which is dedicated to helping children after disasters says, “The more children help, the better the world will be. Every person can make a difference.” We all look forward to hearing about the next group of young leaders and givers who are doing their part with heart.

Please visit http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2011/build-a-bear-workshop/huggable_heroes/index.html to learn more about our Huggable Heroes program or to find tips for how you can give back.

Hugs,
Maxine

ST. LOUIS IS BASEBALL HEAVEN!

August 2, 2010

Everyone that knows me knows I love baseball, especially Cardinal’s baseball. It is hard to live in St. Louis and not get addicted to this fabulous sport. I have always loved sports—particularly college sports like basketball but once I moved to St. Louis, I became addicted to Card’s baseball.

I moved to St. Louis in 1976 and quickly became a loyal fan. I remember my first Championship game in 1985 and all of them afterwards and most definitely the opening of the new stadium and the Build-A-Bear Workshop store in 2006, another championship year!

I have always followed sports as a business leader because I admire winning coaches and I like to learn from them. My favorite Cards coach, Whitey Herzog was just inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and his jersey #24 retired from the Cardinals. This weekend celebrated that championship 1985 season.

Lately I have heard a few people say that St. Louis is about baseball, beer and bears 🙂 Wow!! For BABW to be in the company of such great brands as The Cards and A-B is truly an honor. Today was the perfect day too—it was Build-A-Bear Workshop day at Busch Stadium, the epicenter of baseball heaven, and we gave a way a collector bear wearing a 1985 Card’s jersey.

It was also a day to celebrate our partnership with the Pujols’ Foundation. We have a special bear—the Pujols’ Bear that sells in St. Louis and $5 of the price goes to the Pujols’ Foundation which supports children with Down Syndrome. Of course, this is a cause near and dear to my heart because this was my Mom’s passion as well. To tie into BABW Day we welcomed a special Down Syndrome boy, Bret, to throw out the first catch and Albert Pujols was his catcher. This week was also Bret’s birthday so he was on cloud 9.

Maxine, Bret and Bearemy 8/1/2010

Al-beart is a great hitter and catcher too!

The Cardinals are a championship team because the win games but they also win hearts with their great Cardinal’s care program and their outstanding coaches and players with heart like Albert Pujols. Both the Cards and Albert use their fame to influence causes and the well being of others. Both Albert and his wife Deidre are committed to the community and especially to these terrific children. They are thankful for what God has given them and they give back to others and in so doing set an example of what a true champion is—a winner, inside and out!

Fredbird, Bearemy, Bret , Albert and their fans!

I am always motivated by the heart of others—thanks to the Cardinals and the Pujols Foundation for shining such a bright light on St. Louis and seeting an example for what a champion is first and foremost—a person with HEART!! I think his name should be ALBEART!

Hugs to all,

Maxine

ONE SMALL STEP FOR BEARS, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR BEARKIND

July 23, 2010

Every July 20, I am always reminded about the summer of 1969 and the first landing on the moon. I was a camp counselor in Atlanta and worked weekends at the pool. I was 20 years old and it was a summer of great possibilities—I had my entire life ahead of me and with the landing on the moon, it seemed like the cure for cancer and heart disease and poverty and illiteracy could easily eradicate these problems.  41 years later as we see the space program come to a slow end, we have made progress but we are still faced with these challenges.

I HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER!!!

Round up all the smart, caring kids in the USA and Canada who are doing great things helping others, invest in their projects and encourage them to do more and find more just like them. Name it Huggable Heroes.

This week our Huggable Heroes 2010 class is being officially presented in St. Louis, MO and what a talented bunch they are. Alaina works to educate girls in Afghanistan, Jordan plays his violin thru his Concerts for a Cure to raise money for cutting edge research to eradicate neurological diseases. Melissa helps kids with diabetes and Tatiana and Riley and Charles through three different foundations strive to eliminate illiteracy around the world. Matthew helps kids in need in Canada. Dylan through his Lil MDG organization is changing the world. Allison raises money to buy needed items for our soldiers in Afghanistan and Ashlee collects toys and books for kids in the USA, Canada and Haiti. These 10 GREAT kids join our past Huggable Heroes  (all 60+ of them) like our Guest speaker, Talia Lehman of Randomkid.org resolved to make our world a better place to live, work and play. We will do our best to help them achieve their goals.

Sometimes it does take rocket science but ALL the time it takes a heart and a helping paw.

Thanks to our amazing 2010 Huggable Heroes—we are BEARY proud of you and even prouder to just know you.

Hugs,
Maxine