ST. LOUIS (BUSINESS WIRE) -- After months of evaluation, 10 young leaders from the United States and Canada have risen through the ranks to become the 2010 Huggable Heroes(R). Build-A-Bear Workshop(R) received approximately 1,000 entries for its seventh annual search rewarding youth for their outstanding acts of generosity, volunteerism and leadership.
"These 10 young people prove that we can make a difference to help make this world a better place," said Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear Workshop founder and chief executive bear. "Their compassion not only changes the world but also inspires others to follow in their footsteps. They are our next generation of leaders."
This year's class of Huggable Heroes, ranging in age from 8 to 18, is elevating the bar on giving. Collectively, these dedicated young people have raised funds and collected items valued at more than $22.5 million, and they volunteer more than 650 hours of their time each month. These numbers keep rising as they continue to support military troops, advocate for literacy, raise funds and awareness to help medical advances, help build and fund schools and orphanages in underdeveloped countries, inspire and mobilize other youth from all over the world to help make the world a better place and much more.
The Huggable Heroes will travel to the Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters in St. Louis, Mo., from July 22-23, to meet each other, celebrate their achievements, participate in leadership opportunities and share their stories. Each Huggable Hero will receive $10,000 USD ($7,500 USD in the form of an educational scholarship and $2,500 USD from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to the 501(c)(3) charity of the Huggable Hero's choice).
Following are the 2010 Huggable Heroes and their stories.
Riley created Breaking the Chain, a non-profit organization designed to break the chains of illiteracy and poverty through education by building schools, creating literacy centers and providing books for classrooms around the world.
Charles started Literacy Education for All People, a multi-year initiative to help reduce illiteracy and increase literacy education and awareness both on a local and global level.
Tatiana works with the African Library Project to help increase early literacy in Africa. She has spoken before thousands of people on two continents about literacy and facilitating the creation of libraries.
Ashlee created Ashlee's Toy Closet, a foundation that collects toys and books for kids in need across the United States, as well as in Canada and Haiti.
Dylan co-founded Lil' MDGs to help meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. He mobilizes and rallies youth in all parts of the world to work together to raise funds and resources to build schools, dorms, libraries, playgrounds, community gardens and more in several countries such as Uganda, Indonesia, Cambodia, India and Sudan.
Jourdan is founder and director of Children Helping Children, which raises funds for cutting-edge research and the eradication of neurological diseases through a national benefit, Concerts for a Cure. He has inspired 700 young, professional musicians to join him in performances and in building satellite chapters.
Alison has gathered and shipped more than 44,000 items to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also has collaborated with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and local artists to illustrate a coloring book for Afghan children.
Matthew has raised more than $300,000 to help kids in need. His organization, Matthew's Challenge, has raised money through letter-writing campaigns, selling handmade magnetic bookmarks, hosting galas, walk-a-thons and fundraisers.
Melissa is president of Kids Helping Kids with Diabetes, an organization that educates, raises funds for research and provides support services to people with Type I diabetes. Melissa also manages A Harvest for Many Inc., a 501(c)(3) that collects food for those in need.
Alaina founded Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, an organization that raises funds to educate girls in Afghanistan. She has helped raise more than $137,000 through silent auctions, bottle drives and other events. Alaina also speaks to schools and groups to raise awareness about Afghan issues.
Build-A-Bear Workshop launched the Huggable Heroes program in 2004 to search for and recognize young people making a difference in their communities and/or worldwide. Huggable Heroes are young leaders who demonstrate kindness, compassion and leadership to help make the world a better place.
From Jan. 15 through Feb. 26, 2010, Build-A-Bear Workshop accepted nominations for Huggable Heroes. More than 1,000 young leaders were nominated for their volunteer and community service efforts. Entries were narrowed down to a field of 75 semi-finalists, 25 finalists and ultimately 10 Huggable Heroes.
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, Africa, the Middle East, and Mexico. Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop is the leader in interactive retail. Brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball(R) mascot in-stadium locations, and Build-A-Dino(R) stores. Build-A-Bear Workshop extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award winning virtual world Web site at buildabearville.com(R). The company was named to the 2009 and 2010 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For(R) lists. Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) posted total revenue of $394.4 million in fiscal 2009. For more information, call 888.560.BEAR (2327) or visit the company's award-winning Web site.
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SOURCE: Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc.