Tag Archives: Kidz Give Back

Hurricane Victims: More Ways To Help

Westport continues to respond to the recent hurricanes. Here are 2 intriguing ways to help.

Kidz Give Back — a local organization that lets children stuff, dress and prepare plush toy animals for others in hospitals or financial distress — encourages area youngsters to “send love” to boys and girls in Texas.

Their goal is 1,000 “Stuffed With Love” animals.

Clicking here brings up a donation form. $25 buys a kit with animal skin, stuffing, a wish star, clothing, accessories, gift card, “adoption certificate,” and bracelet so you (well, your child) can build a stuffed animal. Kits can be picked up at 23 Silverbrook Road, where the Wofsy family — originators of the project — live.

It takes less than 30 minutes to assemble an animal. You bring it back to their house; they ship it to Houston.

If you don’t want to assemble the stuffed animal yourself, your donation can purchase a kit for a child to do it.

The Wofsy family (from left): Hallie, Maya, Layla and Scott.

Help of a different kind comes from “Rhythms of Hope.” The benefit drum circle is set for this Saturday (September 16, 2 to 5 p.m.), at the Unitarian Church.

Westport resident Randy Brody — head of Sound Directions — offers his facilitation and drumming skills. Donations ($20 for adults; $10 for seniors; children under 12 free) to participate will raise funds for Direct Relief, which provides medical supplies and health services in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Everyone is welcome. No drumming experience is necessary. For more information call 203-227-7205, ext. 14, or email rbdrumguy@sbcglobal.net.

Randy Brody and his drums.


Day After Thanksgiving Is Stuffed With Love

As little girls, Layla and Maya Wofsy spent their birthdays at Build A Bear. They created stuffed gifts to give to children who needed them more than they did.

Taking cues from their kids, in 2007 Westporters Hallie and Scott Wofsy created Stuffed With Love. The charity event provides an environment where children can create stuffed animals, to be donated to needy youngsters.

Three years later the Wofsy family expanded the idea, forming the Kidz Give Back Foundation.

This area remains a focal point of SWL’s efforts. The day after Thanksgiving every year Kidz Give Back sponsors a Stuffed With Love event, at Weston’s Norfield Grange. Hundreds of children stuff, dress and prepare gifts for others in hospitals or financial distress.

The messy but happy aftermath of a Stuffed With Love event.

The messy but happy aftermath of a Stuffed With Love event.

But as important as the gift of giving is, many children and communities lack the financial resources to host their own Stuffed With Love events.

Fortunately, Kidz Give Back received a Fanny and Svante Kilstrom Foundation grant. That gives 400 children in Bridgeport the chance to create stuffed animal gifts to give to children in need in their own communities. The circle of care ripples outward.

The Wofsys invite all area children — and families — to join their efforts. To join, host or donate to a Stuffed With Love event, click here.


Stuffed With Love

Four years ago — on the day after Thanksgiving — Hallie Wofsy’s daughter Layla turned 7.

Hallie bought stuffed bear kits, including accessories, clothing, gift bags — the whole deal. Layla’s friends came over, and they spent a few fun hours in her Westport home creating stuffed bears.

They gave them to Kids in Crisis, the Greenwich organization that — among many other good works — provides a home for abused or neglected children.

Four years later the project — called “Stuffed With Love” — has boomed. Each year — still the day after Thanksgiving — 150 families meet. They make over 350 stuffed animals. Al DiGuido — the founder of Al’s Angels — includes them in his gifts to children challenged by cancer, rare blood diseases, AIDS, domestic violence and financial hardship.

Maya and Layla Wofsy a couple of years ago, with a few of their creations.

“Westport is a very charitable community,” Hallie says. “Lots of people do amazing things, and they show their children what community service is all about.”

Stuffed With Love goes one step further. By involving kids in the creation of the animals — not simply collecting used or unwrapped toys — they learn the value of investing time and energy in an important cause.

Last December, Hallie made a New Year’s resolution: to expand Stuffed With Love into a national organization. With Al’s encouragement she set out to encourage youth clubs, sororities and like-minded groups to organize their own stuffed bear-making events, to help needy children all over the country.

The not-for-profit — called the Kidz Give Back Foundation — charges $25 per participant. Each person gets a stuffed animal, and all the stuffing materials and accessories. (There are a dozen or so animals to choose from).

Organizers set up 5 stations: stuffing, dressing, naming, card making and gift wrapping. It’s a fun, gratifying project — for the stuffers as well as the children who soon receive the stuffed animals.

Westport youngsters at work last year on a Stuffed With Love project. (Photo/David Esposito for the Daily Westport)

But Hallie’s own kids — Layla, now 11, and Maya, 8 — want to do more. They hope to speak around the nation, spreading the word about Stuffed With Love (and the importance of youth leadership) everywhere.

“Lots of charities give trendy toys to kids at the holidays,” Hallie says. “But there’s something special about getting a stuffed animal. There’s nothing better at the holidays.”

Especially one that’s been stuffed with love.