ST. LOUIS, Jul 21, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Inspirational educator and author Stacey Bess will join 10 of North America's kindest kids who are visiting a St. Louis charter academy today, where they will share their stories and mentor students on the importance of giving back.
Bess arrived in St. Louis this week to honor the 2011 Huggable Heroes(R), ages 12-18, for their good deeds and the inspiration they give others to step up and make a difference. They were selected by Build-A-Bear Workshop(R) from nearly 1,200 nominations. Each receives $10,000 from Build-A-Bear Workshop and accolades from Bess, whose book, "Nobody Don't Love Nobody," documenting her experience teaching homeless students, inspired the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, "Beyond the Blackboard."
While in St. Louis, hometown of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Bess and the 10 youths will stop by KIPP: Inspire Academy to encourage students to make a difference and do their part with heart. The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) school is part of a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-prep public schools designed for students in underserved communities.
Volunteering in America is on the rise. Across the country, 63.4 million Americans volunteered to help their communities in 2009, an additional 1.6 million volunteers when compared to 2008. Bess believes that service is the solution to the challenges facing our country.
"Sometimes people are afraid to serve because they feel they don't have anything to offer," Bess said. "These young Huggable Heroes are amazing role models. They teach us that volunteering is not about having a special skill, it's about taking action."
The Huggable Heroes program, now in its eighth year, honors kids who do extraordinary community service in their communities and around the world. Collectively this year's honorees have raised funds and gathered items valued at more than a half million dollars and have founded five nonprofit organizations.
On average they have volunteered nearly 600 hours each month to:
On Friday, July 22, the young leaders will gather at Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters for a celebratory luncheon with Bess serving as keynote speaker. Inspired after watching, "Beyond the Blackboard," about Bess, Maxine Clark, Founder and Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Workshop, immediately contacted her and invited her to join the Huggable Heroes celebration.
"Our Huggable Heroes have devoted their time and energy to make a change in their schools, their communities, and our world," Clark said. "We want to continue encouraging our Huggable Heroes and, with Stacy's help, show that when people have a heart and provide service, the world can be a kinder place."
Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PCscmzk1ZY to watch the 2011 Huggable Heroes tell their stories.
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(R) stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, and South America. 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 website at Bearville.com(TM). The company was named to the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For(R) list for the third year in a row in 2011. Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) posted total revenue of $401.5 million in fiscal 2010. For more information, call 888.560.BEAR (2327) or visit the company's award-winning website at buildabear.com(R).
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SOURCE: Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc.