St. Louis, MO--(Marketwire) - You have seen young leaders volunteering in underserved schools, hospitals, nursing homes and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Similarly, there are young people who have raised hundreds -- even millions -- of dollars to help those with special needs, protect wildlife and preserve the environment. They volunteer their time and expect nothing in return -- except maybe that you will listen to their positive messages and join them in their efforts to make the world a better place. Build-A-Bear Workshop calls these extraordinary young people Huggable Heroes and is announcing its search for the 2009 Huggable Heroes class.
Each year, for the last five years, thousands of people have helped identify the best young leaders in the United States and Canada by nominating them to be a Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Hero. The search for these special, dedicated and hard-working young people ages seven to 18 begins this Friday, January 16. People may download an entry form or nominate a candidate online by visiting www.buildabear.com/huggableheroes or they may pick one up at a participating Build-A-Bear Workshop store in the United States and Canada.
"There are so many young people out there who continue to set positive examples of compassion, caring and dedication and we want to give them the recognition they deserve," said Build-A-Bear Workshop Founder and Chief Executive Bear Maxine Clark. "We look forward to finding the 2009 Huggable Heroes and sharing their stories."
This year, ten noteworthy young people from the United States and Puerto Rico and two from Canada will be selected and named Huggable Heroes. Each will receive a prize worth $10,000 ($7,500 in the form of an educational scholarship from Build-A-Bear Workshop and $2,500 from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to the 501(c)(3) charity of their choice). In addition, the new Huggable Heroes will each receive a trip for themselves and one parent, or legal guardian, to St. Louis, home of Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters, where the winners will be honored for their good deeds, meet the other 2009 Huggable Heroes and participate in a photo shoot for the 2010 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes calendar.
Find A Young Person Giving Back: They Could Be the Next Huggable Hero
Throughout the program's five-year history, the Huggable Heroes have been recognized for a range of good deeds -- everything from helping children in underdeveloped countries, raising funds and awareness for medical conditions and medical research, to empowering kids to make a difference, helping animals, and beyond.
One example is 14-year-old Talia Leman, a 2007 Huggable Hero, who was honored after founding "RandomKid," a nonprofit organization that takes kids big ideas for a better tomorrow and helps make them a reality. For her efforts, Talia was recently awarded a Children's Nobel Prize® by World of Children and just recently returned from Cambodia having attended the dedication of a school for 200 children made possible by her fundraising efforts through "RandomKid."
"Being a part of the Huggable Heroes program continues to be such a rewarding and enriching experience," said Leman. "Not only did I receive a scholarship and a donation to RandomKid, but more importantly, being a Huggable Hero has enhanced my ability to network and interact with other young people who are also dedicated to making a difference in our world."
Entries will be accepted from January 16 through February 27, 2009. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, teachers, organization leaders or the young people themselves may submit a nomination -- as long as they are seven years or older.
The nominations for the 2009 Huggable Heroes program will first be divided into one of two categories based on the nominee's age: seven to 12 years old or 13-18 years old. The entries will then be narrowed down in three stages by an independent judging panel: Semi-finalists, Finalists and Huggable Heroes. Ultimately, the judges will choose 12 Huggable Hero winners, ten from the United States and Puerto Rico and two from Canada split evenly between the age categories.
Nomination forms are available at participating North American Build-A-Bear Workshop stores or downloadable at www.buildabear.com/huggableheroes. Online entries will also be accepted at the aforementioned website.
"As we have seen throughout the Huggable Heroes program, young leaders are realizing anything is possible, if they put their minds to the task," Clark added. "We are awed and inspired by the Huggable Heroes year after year and look forward to finding the next group of amazing young people for the 2009 Huggable Heroes program."
Huggable Heroes Will Have A Presence in Buildabearville.com™
To raise awareness of the Huggable Heroes program online, the Huggable Heroes will be featured in buildabearville.com, the Build-A-Bear Workshop virtual world.
Starting January 16, visitors to buildabearville.com will be encouraged to participate in a mini-quest online activity that will introduce them to last year's 2008 Huggable Heroes and earn them a special virtual Huggable Hero tee for their avatar and admission to the Build-A-Bearville movie theater where they can watch a video that provides an overview of the program.
One of the fastest growing sites geared toward 'tweens,' admission to buildabearville.com is FREE. Participants are able to create an avatar and enjoy fun, interactive quests and earn Bear Bills™, the world's online currency, which visitors can use to buy or trade for cool gear and accessories for their avatar or their virtual Cub Condo® house.
Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., is the only global company that offers an interactive make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience. The company currently operates more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop is the leader in interactive retail. Brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball® mascot in-stadium locations, Build-A-Dino® stores and friends 2B made® doll locations. In December 2007, Build-A-Bear Workshop extended its in-store interactive experience online with the launch of its virtual world at www.buildabearville.com. Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) posted total revenue of $474 million in fiscal 2007.
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