Category Archives: Friends Count Series

We have Huggable Heroes in our midst!

Molly Saunders – Digital Bear

For the nine years Build-A-Bear Workshop has honored amazing young people doing incredible work in our worldwide community. Through the years more than 100 kids have been named official Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes. These heroes have collectively raised millions of dollars and have donated thousands of hours of community service to help make our world a better place.

This year we are celebrating 15 youth from the United States and Canada for making an amazing difFURence! They have raised nearly $1.4 million to support worthy causes such as homelessness and poverty, bullying, literacy, health issues and recycling. Below are some photos from the service art project our Huggable Heroes created in Memphis, Tenn. at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Collage of St. Jude photos from the Huggable Heroes service art project


The Traveling Smallfrys™

By Maricris of Zensible Mama


Traveling is probably my family’s best skill, if it’s a skill at all. We can pack a mean luggage at any given time and just go! Frequent traveling will do that to you. It also sharpens your ability to pack right and to bring only what is sensible and easy to carry.  The key is to travel light but not deprived.

This holds true when you’re traveling with your child(ren) like we do. And with children come toys! Not just toys but their favorite toys. And oh boy! Some of them can be big. Fortunately, my daughter prefers to bring her Build-A-Bear animals when she travels, which sometimes double as her “travel pillow”. The only problem with it, is that sometimes because they’re large, she can’t really hold on to them well when she’s dragging her own luggage and there have been instances where she drops them or the worst, almost lost some of them in one of our plane trips.

Thank goodness though, and I do mean real goodness, for Build-A-Bear Workshops’ cute and adorable smallfrys™. They’re small, yet not lacking in the cute factor and travel really well. I can easily stuff them in my shoulder or carry-on bags and they’re great for small hands to hold on to when we’re on the go, on the road, or trying to catch our next plane!

In our recent travel to the beach, we opted to bring only our army, yes army, of smallfrys with us. All four of them, including Pedro, my very own little monkey doo. The great thing about having just them in this trip was that my daughter can easily stuff them in our beach bag and transport them on to the beach. And because they’re small, they’re easily manageable, they don’t take up that much space and it was relatively safe from getting too much sand in the process!

Though my favorite thing was that because the smallfrys are small enough, they fit perfectly in either my hubby’s pocket or my daughter’s to keep them safe when her little hands are busy checking out souvenir items at the shops at the beach.

But I think the best thing about the smallfrys is that we were able to bring all our favorite animal collections but in its smaller versions, creating less hassle because we didn’t have to pack a bulky bag to accommodate them. They’re perfectly-sized and my daughter was happy to have them and was surrounded by them each night while she slept! Now that is what you call perfect complement to a wonderful vacation!

Personal note:

Now, it’s needless to say, that during this trip we detoured, like we always do at every place we go to, at a Build-A-Bear Workshop store in Myrtle Beach and my daughter ended up going home with a store-exclusive animal, the Stingray, as part of her excellent academic achievement rewards and eyed the Lime Leopard smallfrys that she might just get soon enough to add to our growing collections.

And I tell you, the new smallfrys collections are all so adorable, it’s so hard not to get your hands on one of them if not all. They’re great “mini-me” version of your favorite regular-sized Build-A-Bear animals, just ask my daughter…


Play in Camp Happy Heart!

By Caitlin Noblitt, Social Media Intern

Welcome to the world’s biggest summer camp! Hangout, play games, win prizes, and make new friends all from your computer. Staying indoors to beat the heat? Camp Happy Heart is the perfect place to experience summer fun while staying cool!

So how do you go about signing up and joining in on the fun? If you already have an avatar in Bearville, just look for the Camp Happy Heart tent on your map. Players can easily create an avatar on the Bearville home page if they do not have an account.

Campers are randomly placed on teams and can begin playing activities and sports to earn points for their team. You ‘ll even get a team t-shirt & emoticon for your avatar just for signing up! This summer the teams are led by four furbulous counselors: ChloeRocks, GreenTracks, AbbieBright, and MiguelSunshine.

Want more details? Here’s a few to get you started:

- Camp Happy Heart celebrates its 5th annibearsary this summer.
- We take online safety very seriously. We’re dedicated to making all of Bearville a safe environment in which to play!
- Almost 500,000 kids participated in Camp Happy Heart last year.
- Camp is FREE to join & play.

Camp won’t last forever! Sign up and earn points for your team now until July 31st. Are you a first time camper? Be sure to sign in everyday to see what’s new, take on our daily challenges and make new friends.

And don’t furget, if you’re going camping in the great outdoors this summer, use our Happy Camper Checklist to make sure you’re bringing the bare necessities. Whether you’re attending virtual camp or you’re exploring the wilderness, have fun!


Summer Picnic Games

By Tara Ziegmont of Feels Like Home

Summer picnic season is well underway. If you’re going to a picnic or hosting your own, it’s always a good idea to have some games planned for the smaller picnic goers.

Here are the games I organized for my church’s recent picnic. These games were great because the older kids (as old as 13-14) were able to play with the younger ones (as young as 3-4), and everyone had a great time.

  • Water balloon dodgeball – Each child starts with one water balloon. When you get hit with a water balloon, you have to sit down and you’re out of the game. After you’ve thrown your water balloon, you may come back to the bucket and get a new balloon and throw it at someone else. For a group of 14 kids, we used about 60 water balloons in this game. You could also play this game with squirt guns, if you didn’t want to fill all those water balloons.
  • Sponge relay race – Divide the kids into teams of 5-6. Each team needs a big dishpan full of water, a sponge, and a jar or wide mouth container. The dishpans should be at the far end of the area, around 20 feet away from the teams, and the jars should be next to the team. Each child will soak the sponge in the dishpan, keeping as much water as possible in the sponge, then run back to the jar and squeeze the sponge into it. The first team to fill their jar til it’s overflowing is the winner. (This game works best with really big sponges and smallish jars.)
  • Limbo – All you need for this one is a stick. Have two adults hold the limbo bar as all of the kids pass underneath. If anyone falls, touches the ground with their hands or arms, or touches the bar, they’re out. The last kid to successfully pass under the bar is the winner.
  • Tug of war – We used the same teams as we had for the relay race earlier. Tie a knot in the center of the rope, and mark a space about 10 feet apart as the neutral zone. The team that wins is the first to pull the knot over to their own side. Encourage the kids to tie handles into the rope to make it easier to hold on to, and help the little ones to do it.
  • Bubbles and water play – After the organized games were over, I put out bubbles, bocce ball, bean bags, and dishpans full of water with the sponges. The kids had fun making up their own games, blowing bubbles, and playing.

What are your favorite picnic games?


Champ’s luck brings him to Ireland!

Champ arrives with a letter from his last hosts!

By Julia Roberts

After his adventures in Slovenia and traveling over 1800 kilometers/1100 miles, Champ arrived safely in Ireland. He wasn’t too tired to hand deliver a special note from the Križ family, where they declared he had a fabulous time!

Champ landed in the welcoming arms of the Dempsey family, Mum and Dad – Lorraine and Carl – almost 9-year-old twin girls Rianna and Sadhbh and 5-year-old daughter Freya as well as their animal family of 4 rescue dogs and cats! They live in a spectacular mountainous area just one hour south of the capital city, Dublin. Ireland, “the land of a thousand welcomes,” is a small island off the coast of Europe with beautiful landscapes, castles, ancient monuments and towns. Visitors like Champ are always made to feel welcome and just like Champ, the Irish people are well known for travelling to different countries!

Rianna barely survived her birth and suffered brain damage as a result of not enough oxygen.

Freya and Champ hitch a ride!

Her parents were given no hope for her to live and in a heart wrenching decision, took her off of her ventilator. Having said their goodbyes, they requested that Rianna be placed with her twin. It wasn’t long before Rianna’s breathing matched that of Sadhbh. “We even saw her moving her fingers on Sadhbh’s skin. Something powerful had happened and we have never looked back,” say their parents. Rianna also has a heart murmur that resulted in an additional diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot; a complex cardiac defect.

Rianna had open-heart surgery when she was nine months old and within a few days, she giggled and rolled on to her tummy for the first time. Rianna has had a lot of intervention over the years due to her diagnoses of spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy with mild dystonia, epilepsy, microcephaly and global developmental delay.

Like many kids with special needs, she has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Rianna uses a walker and wheelchair and has difficulties with mobility and speech. Because she has some sensory issues due to needing more input to feel things, she has a lot of bruises and scrapes, often not even realizing that she’s been hurt.

Rianna and her twinn Sadhbh and Champ visit Rianna’s new school. Champ approves!

All of the interventions, appointments and therapies haven’t stopped Rianna. She loves life and doesn’t live in the shadow of her twin sister Sadhbh, who is developing typically. However, this year has been particularly challenging for Rianna and her family. Rianna was plagued with uncontrollable daily seizures that robbed her of all of her energy and ability to thrive. During this same time, after waiting for a year and trying medications, Rianna was called for surgery on her salivary ducts to reduce her drooling.  While she was in the hospital recovering, the team was able to finally manage the seizures.

Champ at the marathon with Rianna’s mum Lorriane

Luckily for Champ and the Dempsey family, his arrival coincided with Rianna finally feeling better. Her life has returned to her normal busy schedule of appointments so Champ has been a visitor on many road trips. He’s been to the largest children’s hospital in Ireland, to the ENT Surgeon and to Rianna’s disability service, Enable Ireland, for a special clinic with Australian occupational therapists to fit her for a special Lycra suit. A very international day for a very international traveler! Besides being a great friend, Champ also helps with the anxiety that comes with interventions and change of routine for kids with special needs.

Checking out the new chairs at the school with Champ

Champ enjoyed lots of other activities during his visit. He ran in the largest women’s marathon in Dublin (to raise money for Special Needs Parents Association) where Rianna handed out t-shirts. He visited Rianna’s new school with her to meet staff and students. And went to a Build-A-Bear Workshop! The staff was especially excited to meet Champ because the Bear Builder Associates knew about his travels. He got the star treatment and came away with a new t-shirt and stamped passport. The staff gave Rianna a goody bag including a little bear signed by Champ’s friends at the store.

And at the end of each busy day during his visit, Champ snuggled in with the girls and a purple dinosaur and pink bear. The truly remarkable thing about Champ is that his snuggles are international and can be understood in any language. No translation necessary. That really makes him lucky.

Where in the world will Champ go next?

Champ sight-seeing with Rianna’s family


Our Relationship with SKECHERS

By Molly Saunders, Digital Bear

As our Chief Executive Bear always says, you can never have enough shoes. That goes for furry friends, too. We have s been crazy about shoes since we opened our doors in 1997. But our selection of stylish kicks got a lot more fun when we began our partnership with SKECHERS® in 2000.

“Why partner with SKECHERS®?” you ask.

“When smart partners get together and do great things, they reap even greater results,” said Teresa Kroll, Chief Marketing Bear. “[SKECHERS] believed that having stuffed animals wear their shoes was great promotion for them and understood that it could be a win for us both.”

In fact, SKECHERS® was the very first company Build-A-Bear Workshop partnered with.  And it turned out to be a huge success. Since 2000, we’ve sold more than 3.8 million pairs of SKECHERS® shoes for furry friends. That’s a lot of happy feet!

We have had SKECHERS® Twinkle Toes™ for a few years in our stores, and now we are beary excited to be able to offer SKECHERS® Hot-Lights™ and Twinkle Toes Bears. The same thing kids love about the shoes is the same thing they’ll get from the plush.

“Kids that shop at Build-A-Bear Workshop love to wear their own SKECHERS and they love to have their bears wear them, too,” said Felicia Taylor, Senior Manager Partnerships Bear. “Now it’s even more fun because they can have a furry friend that lights up just like the shoes they love!”


Teaching Your Kids to be Patriotic

By Brandy Walleshauser of No Time Mommy


I met my husband a few weeks before he left for basic training. It was one of the toughest decisions he ever made, but after 2001 he felt like he had to defend his country. We welcomed our first daughter while he was still in the Army and he deployed to Iraq a second time two weeks after she was born. Just three short months later, we lost some incredible friends by an IED. It was at that point that we decided it was important for our kids to know the true meaning of Memorial Day and Independence Day, letting them know what it means to be patriotic. After all, for most people it is a day of fun and barbecues, but to us it’s so much more.

I think it’s hard for my kids to really understand the true meaning of being patriotic because they are so young, but we have taught them a few simple things.

Flying the flag: The American flag is a big part of being Patriotic, and while we can’t fly one where we live we make sure our kids know what it means and the proper etiquette when holding or hanging a flag. We do have a flag across from us along with a POW/MIA flag in honor of those missing. The kids love looking at it.

Showing your spirit: You can buy a child’s flag shirt for just $5, it’s the perfect way for your child to show off their spirit.

Read a book about our country: My daughter came home one day from school and was teaching me about patriotism and our founding fathers, etc. It was really amazing how much she knew, all from a children’s book.

Showing self respect: This could be the most important thing to teach your children. For a child to learn what it really means to be patriotic they need to show respect to our culture and country. We would not have freedom without responsibility. Teaching your kids not to liter or damage their surroundings is a great way to show respect for themselves and the world around them.

There is also the option of taking them to a concert or a fireworks show, to show your child how patriotic others are.

My son decided that he wanted to show you his spirit by getting a star style teddy from Build A Bear Workshop and dress it up as a soldier.


Champerina: counting more than friendships

One day Quinnlin’s mom added up how many specialists she and her brother have seen as a result of their multiple special needs. It might surprise you to know that they have seen…

  • 7 pediatric nephrologists, 2 hepatologists, 10 pediatricians, several physician assistants and 6 surgeons
  • 20 speech, physical, occupational and vision therapists
  • 1 orthopedist
  • 1 urologist
  • 100 nurses (at least), lab technicians and nurse assistants
  • 1 child life specialist, 1 nutritionist
  • 8 transplant nurses/coordinators
  • 2 psychiatrists, 2 play therapists
  • 2 dermatologists
  • 1 insurance policy, 2 secondary insurance policies and 5 case managers
  • 5 pharmacies
  • 2 social workers

Quinnlin and Champerina head to the doctor, as friends

Continue reading


Audrey’s picks: the hottest fashions for summer!

By Molly Saunders, Digital Bear

with help from Audrey, 8

Audrey loves fashion and furry friends, I knew she would be the pawfect person to share her favorite summer catalog picks! Audrey’s mom is one of the bears on the digital team. I recently sat down with the furbulous fashionista herself, Miss Audrey, to find out what’s hot in our summer catalog. Check out Audrey’s picks, because they might make great gifts for someone you know and love! Continue reading


Celebrate the American flag on Flag Day, June 14

Honoring The Flag on Flag Day

Folding the flag with pride.

Greetings from General Sarge HQ! Here I am checking in once again for another great patriotic day on the calendar.

Did you know Thursday, June 14th is Flag Day?

While Flag Day isn’t an official federal holiday, it’s been celebrated on June 14th for a long time. Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which took place by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress way back in 1777!

That’s 235 years ago!

In honor of the day I gathered a couple of my furry-friend recruits waiting for deployment to help fold the flag. You will also notice a certificate in this picture too. There’s a New York State flag neatly folded in that package which New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio recently presented to my human-owners’ parents! The flag was flown at the Albany, New York State Legislature building. We’re going to send it to my human-owner PFC Ben in Afghanistan so he can fly it there and remember his home state.

Continue reading


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