Maya Tells The Story Behind Two Sisters Forming A Nonprofit That Empowers All Kids

February 23rd, 2020 | Blog

As a child, my mom would take me and my older sister Layla to Build-A-Bear Workshop for our birthdays. Instead of crafting a stuffed animal for ourselves, though, we would create a furry friend to give to a child in need. 

Around Thanksgiving when I was six years old, my sister and I had friends over to participate in the event. Since it was just around Thanksgiving, it was the perfect time to give back on a larger scale. We ordered supplies from a vendor and invited about 30 of my friends and family to participate in the inaugural event, which we now host almost every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. People sign up so that we have the materials ready and they come between 10:00am to 5:00pm. We include clothing, accessories, the animals, stuffing as well as cards and a gift certificate for the kids to fill out.  At our most recent event, we had 400 kids create stuffed animal gifts for those in need.

Over the years, we realized how great it felt to give back and how important it is to feel empowered to contribute to our community. But we know that many people do not have this opportunity. So, in 2010, our family made a New Year’s resolution to form a non-profit organization, Kidz Give Back, to host our Stuffed With Love events and help kids across the country feel the joy of giving back. Through the generosity of a grant, we have been able to take our events to densely-populated schools in New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Harlem, Bridgeport, and Detroit, and we hope to continue expanding into new communities. We provide all materials necessary for kids to create stuffed gifts, at no cost to the schools or students, and allow participants to choose the charities that will receive their creations.

In 2016, Kidz Give Back visited five schools in Harlem, New York, reaching a total of 500 students. One specific memory comes to mind, even after hosting these events in many public schools across the country. One child, Jamal, was a passive participant, showing little emotion or expression for the first half of the event. I decided to keep an eye on him, hoping that his mood would change. Soon, the students had completed stuffing their gifts and dressing the animals with the t-shirts, jeans, and sunglasses provided in the toy-building kits. We collected all of the gifts that were now ready for distribution, and it was time for the teachers to bring their students back to class. At this point, I looked back to where Jamal had been sitting and noticed that, as his class was getting up, he remained seated. Jamal wanted to help us clean up and asked if there was any other way that he could help. He wanted to do more; he wanted to continue to be the active participant he had transformed into during that last half-hour.

At every event, we provide students with a survey to provide feedback on their experience. I clearly remember when returned home from Harlem, Jamal’s survey quickly came to my attention. When asked, “Did you enjoy the event?” Jamal responded, “This was the BEST day of my life! I have never given to charity before, and I am so happy and feel so good about helping someone else! Please come back so I can help more kids feel happy.” Another student said, “I want to do it again soon!” Before this event, these kids had never experienced the act of giving and the feeling of giving. But with a little encouragement and explaining of where these gifts were going, the kids including Jamal felt amazing and even wanted to create more gifts for others. They knew that they were helping someone else and making them feel happy, all while feeling so happy themselves! 

I have had the privilege of seeing the life-changing effects of our Stuffed With Love events in many communities. Going into so many different schools with different circumstances has opened my eyes to communities all around us and what one kid can do to brighten someone else’s day. Being empowered to give back is an invaluable experience for children, and we aim to provide this opportunity to as many as possible. We hope you will join our Stuffed With Love Family to help us reach our goal of hosting at least one school event in each of the 50 states. For information on how to support our events, please visit the “How to Participate” section of our main menu.

New Orleans 2020

February 18th, 2020 | Past Events

Kipp Leadership Academy “Stuffed With Love”

What an experience it was for Maya, with the help of Tulane students, to work with this awesome middle school and empower 300 students who spent their day creating stuffed animals for other kids in their community.

Jose De Diego Middle School, Miami 2019

April 20th, 2019 | Past Events

SWL 2018 – Everyone Can Participate and Help Kids In Need

October 8th, 2018 | Upcoming Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

As we try our best to face obstacles and challenges with love as fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends and as neighbors -we now hope to share our love with children in our community who are in need during this coming holiday season.

Please help us provide children in need with a special “Stuffed With Love” animal to give comfort in times of need.

***Is your child on a SPORTS TEAM, or involved in an EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY GROUP that is looking for a great bonding activity? Email hallie@kidzgiveback.org and we can help organize a “Stuffed With Love” event!

                                                              WAYS TO PARTICIPATE
CLICK BELOW– $25 donation to pick up “Stuffed With Love” kits from our home (23 Silver Brook Road, Westport ) for your child/children and their friends to create. The kit will include: animal skin, stuffing, wish star, clothing, accessories, gift card, adoption certificate, a SWL bracelet for your child to wear for participating, and a non-woven gift bag. The gift will take less than 30 minutes to create and will provide unlimited love to a child in need.
CLICK BELOW– $25 donation to provide the opportunity for a child in need to create their very own stuffed animal to love and hug unconditionally.
FORWARD this email to all of your friends so that their kids and their friends can participate.
We will provide these gifts to children at:
• Saint Christopher Ottile – in Sea Cliff
• Children’s hospital at Yale
• St. Barnabas in the Bronx
• Stonybrook Hospital – Children’s Oncology
• Saint Vincent Hospital

With love,
Hallie, Scott, Layla, and Maya Wofsy

CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE

Please contact Hallie Wofsy at hallie@kidzgiveback.org or 203-451-6295 with any questions.

Layla and Maya inspire Atlanta students in 2018 to give back to their community

September 11th, 2018 | Blog

Kidz Give Back “Stuffed With Love” traveled to Shultze Academy in Detroit, Michigan

September 4th, 2018 | Past Events, Press

2018: Kidz Give Back Headed to Barack and Michelle Obama Academy in Atlanta, Georgia for students to give back to their community

September 4th, 2018 | Past Events

“KGB”founders Layla and Maya inspiring Atlanta students to give back to their community

Meet Layla and Maya

May 23rd, 2018 | Blog

 

Providing Love to Victims of Hurricane Harvey

September 13th, 2017 | Past Events

 Thousands of children needed
our help in Southeast Texas and you provided  them with LOVE

400 Stuffed with Love Animals
went to the children of Texas !
A Mission of Love from
Kidz Give Back !!!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Hurricane Harvey had brought so much havoc and misery to children and families in Southeast Texas.  So many children lost nearly everything that they cherished. We are so thankful that you have created almost 400 gifts that were sent down to these children in need. These children and their families needed HOPE to help them thru the difficult road that was ahead of them and you all provided them with hope.We have been providing these animals stuffed with love to thousands of children and we thank you for sending your LOVE to the children of Southeast Texas.

 

 

 

Children Give Back and Make a Difference in Their Communities: Bridgeport, CT 2015 and Harlem, NY 2016

July 20th, 2016 | Past Events

 

 

 

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