WESTPORT, Conn. — Sometimes, the biggest rewards come from the smallest packages.
Layla and Maya Wofsy, 15 and 13- years-old respectively and founders (along with their parents, Hallie and Scott) of the Kidz Give Back Foundation, recently visited four Harlem public schools to give fourth and fifth grade students an opportunity to give back to the community by making stuffed animals that will be donated to other children in need.
The mission behind the 501 (c) (3) Westport-based organization, in operation since 2007, is to empower children to create gifts for families in need.
Most recently, there’s been a special focus on providing kids in inner cities who normally are only recipients of charity, to gain that same feeling of empowerment as those who are financially able to give charitably.
Last year the organization and its “Stuffed With Love” events reached 400 inner city kids along with more than 550 kids through private functions.
The need to help others all started when the Wofsy girls were small. At two, Layla was making stuffed animals for her birthday and donating them to children in need. By the time Layla was seven, she decided to forego a typical birthday party and instead asked to host a stuffed animal-making party for charity and invite the kids from the neighborhood to join in. The seeds for this giving tradition was born, turning Kidz Give Back into a family affair.
“We’ve had such incredible responses from the kids who participate in our events,” said Hallie. “Kids always tell us how much fun they had and some have even said it was the best day of their life.”
While some youngsters have only experienced what it is like to receive a gift, Kidz Give Back inspires children to make a stuffed animal for another needy child in the community, allowing them to feel the satisfaction of giving to someone else who is facing a difficult time in their life. Participants receive a “Stuffed With Love” silicone bracelet to remind them of the time they gave to help another child.