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.
Hugs Across America had it's annual fundraising cocktail party on Nov 22nd at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. The event brought folks from near and far...neighbors and friends from Manhasset as well as supporters of Hugs mission from as far away as Florida and Massachusetts. All were treated to a rousing round of questions for Mike Franseca, sports commentator for the WFAN and "Mike'd Up" of NBC fame, as well as inspiring personal messages of support from Honorees, Robbie Donno, Founder and CEO of Gift of Life International, and Charlene and Mike Prounis, community activists and ardent enthusiasts of Hugs.
Mike Francesa shares a teddy!
In this economy it is an truly an honor to receive the continued support both of those in attendance, The MacHugs Chapter of Hugs in Pinehurst, NC and especially Kenrda Phillips, Lauren Gaffney of HBO, the Board of Trustees and the local businesses that provided services and support for our effort as we continue to bring comfort and hope to anxious, hurting children who are victimized by traumatic circumstances. We recognize that this year is uniquely difficult, and as a charitable organization, can only say a heartfelt "Thank you" to all.
Ben Willis, a remarkable 5 yr old, from Nashville, Tennessee decided that he wanted to help children who were scared or hurt through the hugs of teddy bears. Ben knows how much his teddy comforts him, so he decided to raise money for Hugs Across America by running in a Race for Hugs. In addition, Ben has sold our bracelets and lollipops for money to buy bears for hurting kids all over the United States. Thank You, Ben! You are a very special humanitarian ( that's a kid who wants to do good stuff for others...like you do.)
Although Hurricane Ike did not seem to be as distructive as anticipated, the aftermath continues to devastate thousands upon thousands who are not able to return home. Many are not even certain that home will still exist and others who survived the storm remain without electricity and water while basic supplies are running out. Hugs Across America Chapters have stepped up to help by providing teddy bears for children staying in church shelters throughout Houston, Brazoria and Passadena, Texas. The United Way of Montgomery County, Texas will take teddies with them as they go door to door answering calls for help. Our Oklahoma, Kelsey Briggs Chapter of Hugs, led by Jamie Gallimore and Loretha Sweetin, the Woodmen of the World Chapter in Georgia, led by Ted Church and the nationl headquarters have worked particularly hard getting teddies ready to meet the need tagged and ready for Ike shelters...more to come!
Hurricane Gustav hit the coast of Louisiana with category 3 winds in excess of 120 mph, pouring rain of possibly 12", flooding local rivers and testing newly constructed levees. Although it did not appear to be "the big one", it certainly wrecked havoc with the lives of those living in it's path. Shelters from New Orleans to Baton Ruge to Ruston to Houston were full to overflowing with the approximately 2 million people leaving the vulnerable coast. The national Hugs office in NY and three local Hugs chapters, stepped up to provide hundreds upon hundreds of teddies for shelters in need. Jakki Hatchett, the leader of "Jacob's Hugs" in Minden, Louisiana, took the chapter bears as well as National's bears to shelters in Shreveport, Joni Mabry of "Lagniappe Hugs" ( a Creole word meaning, "a little extra" ) in Ruston, Louisiana took her several hundred teddies to Trinity Church, Emmanuel Church shelter and the Civic Center of Ruston where shelters were readied, and Ted Church, of the Woodmen of the World Disaster Team, in Conyers, Georgia, added teddies to the disaster team trucks as they rode to the hardest hit areas of the storm. Though we are learning to prepare more effectively for hurricanes, we can not make the fear just go away ...and in the eyes of a child, a welcoming teddy hug, makes the difference. Waiting for a bed in a safe shelter while the storm rages, can be a scarey thing for the whole family. A huge "thank you" to all those who helped this volunteer effort!
Joni Mabry makes sure that the kids at Emmanuel Baptist Church shelter have a special teddy to hug while their cots are readied.