Welcome to Project Bear Hugs. My name is Hannah Hoobyar and I am so happy you are here! I am 15 and live in Reno, NV.
Project Bear Hugs was started after watching some heartbreaking news stories. First there was the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Then the Boston Marathon Bombing. Then the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas. And every time there are more and more kids involved, living through awful things that made me want to cry.
I wanted to do something. I searched, made phone calls, looked on the internet. All I could find were ways to donate money so the families affected could get food and shelter.
I know that’s important, but what about all those scared kids? All the frightened children, and what their dreams must be like after everything they’ve seen? I wanted to make sure they know people out here care. We love them and want them to feel safe and happy again.
So I started trying to find ways to deliver teddy bears and stuffed animals to the kids. You know what? No one would take them! Turns out, shipping these animals takes too much work and costs too much for any of the known organizations to deal with.
Well, I can’t put a price tag on a kid getting a good night’s sleep. I’ve had bad nights. I remember being so scared I couldn’t sleep, didn’t feel safe. And there were days that only my stuffed animal, my “Snuggles,” would make things a little better for me.
So I started Project Bear Hugs.
I have partnered with businesses in the Reno area, and beyond, to find ways to get these animals to the kids who need them most. The kids whose emotional needs get overlooked as everyone is trying to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. I want to help the other parts of them…their hearts.
The reactions from the kids are amazing. I’ve seen kids start talking who hadn’t talked since the disaster they were around happened. I’ve watched older teenagers cry at just being given a stuffed animal to hold. Parents have hugged me and thanked me for remembering their child’s heart. It’s overwhelming…and confirmation that everything we’re doing is making a difference.
I thank everyone who has and continues to help and donate. Without all of you none of this would be possible.