HOWARD — Kittrick Bley has a goal to make kids smile and build a better world. The Howard mother of three started a charity, Build a Better World, after brainstorming ways to spread positivity during the pandemic.
"It was like a light bulb went off," Bley said. "I just thought this is perfect. Maybe I can get a bunch of Build-A-Bears because I know how exciting it is for kids to go there."
The goal of her charity is to provide families in need with Build-A-Bear stuffed animals. She gets the bears through donations from other residents she interacts with on Facebook.
After getting the bears, she removes their stuffing and brings them to Build-A-Bear for fresh stuffing. Bley said the "unstuffing" is the most time-consuming part of the process, taking three to four hours for around 20 bears.
Annie Gajewski also contributes to Build a Better World. She's the creator of Sew Beary Cute Boutique, a boutique that makes memory bears out of old clothes. She uses her skills to make unique outfits for Bley's bears.
"When I found out what she was doing, I offered to help in anyway I could," Gajewski said. "As a mother of three myself, I understand how hard it can be some years. For some of these kids, they aren't able to go build a bear."
After everything's all finished, Bley brings the bears to local organizations and churches. This year, she's working with Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Ashwaubenon. In the past, she's brought her bears to Freedom House and Golden House in Green Bay.
She's donated 141 bears so far, and this upcoming holiday season, she said she hopes to reach 100 families.
"It's just a bear, but it makes a big difference to them on Christmas Day," Bley said.
Bley is also partnering with Scooter's Coffee from November 16th through the 18th for a bear drive. People can go to any of the Scooter's Coffee locations in Green Bay and donate their old Build-A-Bears for a chance to win a gift card.
Bley said she's excited to watch her charity grow and hopes to get more people involved because at the end of the day, she aspires to build a better world.
"The world just needs more happiness and more good in it," Bley said. "You really need to start with the kids when they're young. Just doing good deeds are really important, even if they're small."
Anyone interested in helping Bley build a better world can check out her Facebook page here.