We are happy to keep bringing you Hugs Across America news, highlight activities of our volunteers and create a fun place for our visitors, supporters and friends of our mission.
Logan Beard, 13, helps sift through the debris of a home on
Countynorth of after a tornado swept through the area Vicksburg, Miss.
on Saturday, April 24, 2010. Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press
there was "utter obliteration" in parts of
, an area Yazoo County
where he is from.
Mary Hamilton, Director of the Jackson American Red Cross, has requested 1,000 bears for children of the 700 families that have lost everything! 150 – 175 mile per hour winds simply destroyed everything in the 1 mile wide path of the tornado. In addition to the destruction of homes, 10 people, including three children, were killed as the storm swept across Mississippi. The teddies will help give those children who lost so much a little message of huggable hope. They are so frightened, not knowing what will happen.
April 5th 2010, marked a particularly devastating day in Montcoal, West Virginia, and across the country. Twenty-five miner's from the Massey Energy's, Upper Big Branch Coal Mine, were killed in an explosion on Monday evening.. Mourners wait for news of four more who were left in the mine. Anxious family and friends have gathered to hold candle light vigils while prayers for the families have been held all across America. As the waiting continues and the families of the known dead grieve for their loved ones, some 160 teddy bears have arrived to bring a special hug of hope. The American Red Cross in Beckley, West Virginia is distributing the bears to children of lost miners and those anxious about family members. Naomi Smith, a Red Cross worker, stated that it's important for the families to know that they are not alone and that people all over the country share their loss. Hugs will be a big help. Our prayers are with them.
Students at Mandracchia Sawmill Intermediate School in Commack collected 146 teddy bears to donate to Hugs Across America. The not-for-profit charity was founded by Sue Lucarelli, who was a teacher in a Manhasset school when the towers went down on September 11, 2001. She recalled, "The school went into lock-down as a precaution, and one of my anxious students said to me, "I need a hug!"" She gladly complied, and thought to give the youngster one of the class teddy bears as an added comforter. And as simply as that, the concept of Hugs Across America was born. The organization now has 195 chapters nationwide and has distributed more than 460,000 teddy bears to children who might "need a hug" to cope with events in their lives. The bears are distributed to children of military parents who have been deployed, children who are involved in family court struggles, natural disasters, or are grieving. Many fire engines and police cars carry a spare bear or two to give to youngsters at emergency scenes. Each bear that is given out has an attached tag that indicates the giver's name and the message, "I care." Sawmill fifth grade student council representative Olivia Dubi initiated the idea of collecting the teddy bears for children. A bit of research by student council advisor Phyllis Solomon led her to Hugs Across America. Its mission statement echoes the feelings of the Sawmill students, "In this often troubled and troubling world, it is our mission to bring comfort to children in crisis through the hugs of teddy bears and messages of loving care." Article by: Brenda Lentsch
Commack Public Schools
. Courtney Wierzbicki writes that, "In our English 12 class we were all assigned to come up with a service learning project. My group has brain stormed and came up with the idea of helping your organization. We were wondering if we could possibly collect bears to donate to children who have lost so much because of the earthquake in Haiti. If this isn't what you need then we would love to help in another way, maybe by collecting money or helping pass out bears. There is a total of 4 girls in our group and we would love to get going on this as soon as possible. They did, indeed, get busy and collected 93 teddy bears. The girls, Alison Huffman, Sam Matta, Kait Cummings and Courtney wrote out tags with a messageof hope for each reciepient and put them on the teddies. This shipment of bears will be heading immediately to Big Pine Key, Florida for transport to a UN delegation ready to distribute the teddies to children in the Port - Au - Prince area who are now homeless. A big heartfelt thank you to Courtney and the girls for their effort!!! ....and yes, it will definitely make a difference to children who have suffered so much.
As we all seek to bring relief to the thousands of Haitian families who have been devastated by this horrible earthquake, I would like all to know that Hugs Across America has been doing its part as well. I have been in touch with the Haitian Council in NYC which represents thousands of Haitian nationals in the NYC area, many of whom are known to have lost family members. The Haitian Community Council, lead by Samuel Barthelemy, has requested that Hugs provide teddy bears to the children of those who have suffered lost family who live in several local areas. He has specifically requested teddies for counselors, social workers as well as several churches and 39 NYC public schools with high populations of Haitian children. To date Hugs has distributed over 819 teddies to grieving and anxious children with family members who have lost their lives in Haiti. In the last few weeks, the public schools have seen an influx of children directly from Haiti, who were actually victims of the earthquake. Every effort is being made to ease the trauma experienced by these young victims.
Our prayers go out to all who have suffered in this crisis.
Later, as shelters and orphanages are created in the stricken areas of Port au Prince as well as in the out lying areas, we will mount an appeal to send teddies directly to Haiti. Thank you as always for your concern and help with comforting children in traumatic circumstances.