Posts Tagged ‘Huggable Heroes’


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.


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 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.



July 20, 2009

In just a few days, some “pawsome” young leaders are coming to St. Louis to be cele-bear-ated and I can hardly wait.  Those of you who read my blog know that to me heroes are  teachers, astronauts, community leaders–people who put others first! What makes them heroes you might ask? They have selflessly accepted the challenge to do their part to make their communities, schools and our world a better place. These young leaders are heroes in my mind, and at Build-A-Bear Workshop, we call them our Huggable Heroes.

We will have the privilege to honor and learn from 12 amazing individuals between the ages of 7-18 from the United States and Canada, as well as two of our beary own store associates, who have done a variety of things from helping animals and combating hunger, to supporting military troops, raising funds and awareness for medical conditions and disabilities, and helping children, countries and communities in need.

What I find most amazing is that collectively, our 2009 Huggable Heroes have raised funds and gathered items valued at more than $16 million and have volunteered more than 6,000 hours of their time throughout the year. And to think they have done all of this on top of going to school, playing sports, being involved in extracurricular activities, spending time with family and friends and just being kids.

While the Huggable Heroes are in St. Louis they will participate in leadership activities and work on a community service project to help a local St. Louis public school, Mason Elementary, get ready for the new school year. They will share their stories, network with one another and meet some truly incredible role models, one being Charles Best, Founder of is an amazing organization that grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in public schools. Charles, then a social studies teacher, sensed that many people would like to help public schools in need, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over what would be done with their donations. Thus, was created so that individuals like you, me, anyone and everyone, can connect directly with classrooms in need and help make sure that students in every community have the resources necessary to learn. What I love about is that they empower teachers and those they term, “citizen philanthropists,” to become change makers. All of our Huggable Heroes, past and present, are “citizen philanthropists” in their own right. The 2009 Huggable Heroes will not only learn a lot from Charles, but I think they will teach him a few things as well.

To our 2009 class of Huggable Heroes, our 6th class — Bilaal, Brittany, Christine, Cody, Jenny, Katie, Kaylee Marie, Kendall, Max, Mimi, Patrick, Robbie — you are leaders in the truest sense. And, a special shout out to Coreen and Kim, this year’s store associate Huggable Heroes. You all are joining an amazing group of five classes of Huggable Heroes that have gone before you. They continue to grow their projects and impact others. I know this is just the beginning for all of you and I hope you see this time as a jumping off point to continue to cultivate your skills and grow your heart even more. I won’t be surprised to see many of you leading our country and our world into a very bright future.

Hugs and heartfelt thanks,

love hugs peace


July 13, 2009

I have often said that one of the best parts about being Chief Executive Bear is all the PAWSOME people I get to meet. Well, today was no exception!

It is Major League Baseball All Star Game weekend in St. Louis and many famous celebs are in town to cele-bear-ate. It is great for St. Louis and especially exciting for our BABW store at Busch Stadium where we are selling our All Star Bears like crazy!

Kids often ask me if they can be famous on BABV, be a celebrity like Chloe or Miguel or soon like our young star Itzel who won our Love.Hugs.Peace Singing contest or Jamia who will be singing the now famous song at NASA’s celebration of the anniversary of 40 years of Apollo? It always makes me smile when they ask that question and I always say, “Famous is what YOU make it. What do you believe in? What do you want to stand for in life?”

Today I met one of my heroes, a celebrity in my book for sure–Nancy Brinker. Nancy, a former retailer who trained under Stanley Marcus at N-M in Dallas, is the Founder of the Susan G. Komen For a Cure named after her sister Susan Goodman Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980 at age 36. Through Nancy’s hard work and determination, millions of women have survived breast cancer and someday a cure will be found because she BELIEVED! Nancy’s determination to create a world without breast cancer is as she says, personal. A breast cancer survivor herself, Nancy describes the success of her grass roots global organization as a personal enlistment of every segment in society to get involved, to educate and to change policy. What started out modestly has grown to be the largest grass roots organization in the world and catapulted Nancy into many public positions including being appointed the United States Ambassador to Hungary. WOW!!

Nancy is a Midwestern girl from Peoria, IL and when you meet her, you feel like you have known her for years. She is genuine and down to earth but highly committed to her cause—now to save the world from breast cancer. What makes Nancy most down to earth is she does what she does out of passion and conviction and a belief that we can all make a difference. In my book she is every bit a hero and a celebrity. I am better for having met her today.

Next week our 2009 Huggable heroes will come to St. Louis to be honored and like Nancy, they BELIEVE! Thanks to Nancy Brinker and all of our heroes who believe that making a difference for others is the greatest celebrity of all.





January 22, 2009

I am back home now and the inauguration and the last celebratory activities were indeed memorable. Time flew by but it will indeed be a memory for a lifetime.

It was really fun to share the experience with so many friends old and new and also all of my readers. Thanks for sending your comments.

Inauguration Day itself started early and went late so I did not get a chance to update you all. It was a crazy start to a day to be sure. gates were scheduled to be opened at 9 AM then 8 AM and then for those that were really nervous, 7 AM. I had purple tickets so GREAT location. After waiting in line for over 2 hrs my group decided to just watch via television. Our hotel was close to the Capital and just headed back. It was worth it. No regrets–we got to see it PAWFECTLY on TV.


Maxine cuddled up with a crowd of thousands

I was quite moved by President Obama’s message and I agree, we all have to step up. This is a great call to action for our Huggable Heroes  to do even more than ever and I expect that our applications will soar this year as people are more aware than ever of the call to service.  Click here for more details : is a picture taken by my husband Bob.

Obama speaking and the upclose view

Obama speaking and the upclose view

After the ceremonies we all had lunch at the hotel and began to prepare for the Inaugural Balls. While we were having lunch at the hotel President and Mrs. Obama were in the Capital Rotunda having lunch much more formally. Sunday,  when we had our tour we saw the lunch tables being set. It was a great preview!

The Presidential banquet room before the event

The Presidential banquet room before the event

The Balls were mostly held at the Convention Center to save money and make it easier for The First Couple to visit. We went to the Midwestern Ball where Sheryl Crow performed and Barack and Michelle visited at around 11:30. Having met them before, we ducked out at about 11 PM . Pictures to come on the Ball 🙂

On Wednesday AM we left  DC to return home and begin the work the President has challenged us to do. I am energized and ready to go.I can’t help but think that all that we have done in the last few years–in fact the $20 + million we have donated to charities is just what our President is demanding, just MORE of it. Check our our new love.hugs.peace details and join the movement:


Maxine the Cub Reporter


January 16, 2009

As a child I always looked up to my elders. Lucky for me there were many great leaders in my community that I could look up to…people that I saw as my heroes.

I often speak about my teachers. They are definitely my heroes. Little did I know at the time how heroic they were. They were always there for us and they always seemed like partners with our parents keeping us on the straight and narrow. Teachers were clearly in charge.

My mom, Annie K as she was known to most,  was my first hero. Talk about being for the underdog–my Mom was surely that. She wanted to help everyone that needed it and in her short 56 years (she died when I was 21), she did just that. Mom was a community organizer extraordinaire having been trained in community service by Eleanor Roosevelt. My Mom had the incredible opportunity to be one of Mrs. R’s preferred traveling secretaries. I have wonderful pictures that show Mom and Eleanor at work that are awesome. At the First Lady’s knee my Mom developed a special interest in helping children with Down syndrome then called Mongoloidism. She collaborated to create a school in Miami–the Hope School, where children were differently- abled, NOT disabled!

My Mom and Dad were both first generation Americans and their first heroic act was that they wanted more for my sister and me than they had. While we never seemed to want for much, we definitely didn’t have everything but honestly, I can’t remember missing too much. That’s not because I had that much but because I had what mattered..a loving family, one dog, one bike, one Barbie doll , one very full library card, and one special bear, Teddy.

Now talking about one bear when I am the CEB of a teddy bear making company may seem like heresy but in those days, there were not so many stuffed animals to choose from. Teddy didn’t have a heart inside or any cool clothes or shoes–he always was bearfoot 🙂 but he had my love and undying friendship. While I lost Teddy when I was 10, I have been looking for him ever since. (Teddy’s lost story will be told another time)

Teddy was my hero. He listened to my tales of woe about being a big sister (it was no fun) and he had to help me rehearse my speeches and help me practice how I was going to “sell” something to my parents and he never complained.  He seemed to soak it up and allowed me to see what was right or wrong myself. He never disagreed–we were truly kindred spirits.

When I created BABW I wanted to celebrate heroes, in as many ways as possible. One idea I wanted to do from the start was honor kids who made a difference in their communities through volunteer work. In essence, nurture the next generation of social entrepreneurs–the next Annie K’s of this world. We launched our Huggable Hero program in 2004 and it is grown exponentially ever since.

Bailey, Rachel, Talia, Jenna, Whitten, William, Zach, Warner, Heather,Welland–there are nearly 50 young community leaders that we have honored since 2004 and I am proud to say that they are all my friends. You can read about each of them in detail at :

You know another cool thing about our heroes? They can all look up to President Elect Obama who started out as a community volunteer and see that volunteering is a direct path to leadership. While I believe that one day one of these wonderful children will be President of the USA, you don’t have to be the elected leader of the free world to make a huge contribution to human and bearkind. You can be just like you or me, diving into what we do with passion and determination to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Our 2009 Huggable Hero recruiting campaign starts tomorrow, January 16, and I have a feeling with all the buzz about helping our communities and country we will have the best class of winners yet. In fact Monday, January 19th is Martin Luther King Day but it has also been declared a National Day of Service. Be a hero in your own town and make a difference. It feels un-bear-lieveable to help others!

Please pass on the info about our Huggable Hero search. Every winner receives a $7500 scholarship and $2500 for their charity and in today’s world that can go a long way to making life a little brighter too.

By the way, you have all commented on Milford our CED and given me so many suggestions for a shed-less dog, thank you! Below is a picture of one of our hero dogs at BQ–Willie. Willie was trained to be a Companion Dog but developed arthritis and couldn’t fulfill all the tasks so he now helps us at BABW and believe me he earns his keep being a GREAT dog. Maybe we should add dog heroes to our search next year.


Willie always has a smile on his face and is ready to help anyone.

Willie always has a smile on his face and is ready to help anyone.