Bear Hugs

Today, Everyday Truth is participating in a blog link-up in honor of Giving Tuesday, highlighting ways we can give to others during the holidays. Please check out the other local blogs listed at the end of this post for more charities that do great work and can use your help.

Who doesn't love a teddy bear? I mean, what's not to like? They're cute, they're cuddly, they bring smiles to kids' faces. And it's those smiles that interested two 11-year-old girls, Jaida Collins and Madison Timken.

Jaida is my next-door neighbor and Madison is her best friend. Spurred by the sad news that a family friend's 2-year-old had to spend several months in the hospital because of a choking incident, Jaida and Madison began looking for a way that they could help children who had to spend a long time in the hospital. And that's where Bear Hugs began.

Jaida and Madison created Bear Hugs to provide children in hospitals (and now seniors in nursing homes) with a teddy bear. They sent out a letter to friends and family asking for donations so they could go to Build-a-Bear and make some teddy bears to donate to hospitals. The response was so much bigger than they expected. To date, they have raised enough money to make 100 bears and are still collecting donations. Build-a-Bear gives them a discount and free items, and the girls enjoy taking their friends with them to make the bears. Jaida and Madison were even featured in a video for a national preteen conference highlighting their work with Bear Hugs.

These two 11-year-olds are making a difference in the lives of sick kids. They saw a need, and they have created a way to meet it, proving that you're never too young to help others.

Jaida and Madison are great examples of the fact that it's never too early to start teaching our kids how to give to others. When we teach our kids to focus on other people, we teach them to be like Jesus. We teach them to live out the words of Matthew 28:40: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Make this holiday season one where you focus on others. Start with tomorrow's Giving Tuesday and choose a way to give to others. You can even choose to help Jaida and Madison create more bears. If you'd like to donate to Bear Hugs, send donations (checks made out to Jaida Collins) to:

Bear Hugs

c/o Jaida Collins

12534 S. Lincoln St.

Olathe, KS 66061

You can contact them for more information at bearhugsproject@gmail.com.

And if you want some more ideas to truly make this a season of giving in your home, be sure to join us starting Dec. 1 for 25 Days of Giving, a series focused on quick, easy ways to teach your kids about giving to others.

 To learn about other Kansas City charities and how you can make the season brighter for others, visit these great blogs:

 it's me, debcb! --- Safehome

Back to Allen --- The Children's Place

Whatcha Makin Now --- Wayside Waifs

Soleful Suitcases --- KC Rescue Mission

Wayward Dogs --- Midwest Adopt-a-Bull

Sarah Scoop --- Toys for Tots

Laughing Cat Creations --- Turning Point

Blogchickabowow --- Jewish Family Services

Healthnut Foodie --- Veronica's Voice

Raising the Barrs --- Hillcrest Transitional Housing

KC Edventures --- Salvation Army & Children's Mercy

The Happy Family Movement --- Rose Brooks Women's Center