Hugs for HOPE Hugs for HOPE! One kid's dream to help others around the world.jpg


First of all you, many of you may be asking yourself this one question: How in the world did an eleven-year-old 5th grader start a fundraiser that would be able to donate toys to kids in around the world? Well, here is my story.

Hello, my name is Aiden, and I’m from Wichita, Kansas. I love to read, and one day I was reading a book called Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul when I came across a story that caught my eye in a very interesting type of way. It was about a girl that delivered stuffed animals around the world to kids in need.

I showed my mom, who is one of the leaders in a group called, and I asked her if I could collect stuffed animals for kids, too, so they know that they have friends in America who care for them. She liked the idea because she was planning to travel back to Kenya and India this year, so we spent about an hour coming up with ideas and designing the logo. When we were done, I thought that this should be a local fundraiser and it should not be just for our family. We should ask all of Wichita to help!

Hugs for HOPE Graphic Kenya Church 1.jpg

I gave a small speech at our church to tell them about the idea, and I made a video for Facebook, asking for gently used stuffed animal donations.

I even spoke at a self-defense class! Aiden speaking at Fearless and Female.jpg

We set up giant boxes in local stores and made a couple hundred flyers as well. The stores that we set them in were Blazing Electronics (a cell phone repair store), Things 4 That (a friend’s arts and crafts store), and one at Restoration Church. While I was at school, I sometimes wondered how many stuffed animals we had. When my mom and I checked in on the boxes, they started to grow super high with stuffed animals! We ended up with over 400 stuffed animals! I was super excited! I even made another video for Facebook to thank everyone who helped!

Aiden and Pikachu.JPG

A couple of days before my mom was supposed to go on the trip to Kenya with my future aunt (Miss Kelsey), I worked together with my brothers, my stepdad, and my mom to package up over 200 stuffed animals for the trip! We also packed baby formula and vitamins for moms who are going to have babies (something else we were gonna give away to women in Kenya). The next day Mom and Miss Kelsey left for Kenya. I was so excited and also glad for them, but I was also going to miss them! It was like I had mixed emotions for whether to miss them or not, since part of the reason they were going was to give the Hugs for Hope stuffed animals to kids they were meeting at schools and an orphanage for kids with special needs.

I stayed at my dad’s house for a solid downright two weeks while my mom was gone. Mom kept in touch with me. We often texted or called each other, (that’s one of the good sides to having a phone when you’re young.) Mom sent me pictures of the kids getting their stuffed animals which made me feel so happy! I loved looking at the pictures and videos so much that one time I was almost late for school!

Abana Hugs for Hope 1.JPG Precious Kids Girl Reindeer.JPG Precious Kids Boy and Cow.JPG Precious Kids Girl Hedgehog .JPG Crossroads Stuffed Animals 1.JPG

When they got back I was so happy! Some of the kids even wrote me thank you notes, which I of course read before I started working on my homework. I can’t wait to see pictures from when my mom will take more of our Hugs for Hope stuffed animals to an orphanage in India with her later this year!

Just look at their happy faces! Thank you for everyone who made this possible! I could not have done it without you!

– Aiden