[Nov. 2016 Features] Stuffed with Love empowers youth

By Lili Romann ’19

 

A child suffering cancer receives a plush, stuffed dog dressed in a pink skirt alongside a beautiful ‘get well’ note, and it makes her day. Suddenly, the pain she is feeling is somewhat relieved. Somebody is thinking of her.

Kidz Give Back is a non-profit organization founded  by the Wofsy family of Westport.  The organization holds national events, called Stuffed With Love, where communities are invited to come together to create stuffed animals that will be donated to children in need.

Hallie Wofsy, mother and wife of the Wofsy family, finds giving back empowering and important, a notion which ignited her idea of holding the first Stuffed With Love event in 2007. The charity was so successful that the family decided to officially start the nonprofit organization in 2010.

“The response was so positive that we knew we needed to somehow make this a tradition. In 2010, on New Year’s Eve, we made a family resolution to create Kidz Give Back Foundation a nonprofit organization,” Hallie Wofsy said.

Annually, the day after Thanksgiving, a Stuffed With Love event is held at various venues within Fairfield County. Layla Wofsy ’19 has treated these events as her November birthday since she believes November is the month of giving for everyone, not just herself.

The stuffed animal creation process is set up like an assembly line:  there is a station that has an assortment of different plush animal outer casings, a station for stuffing, as well as miniature clothing and accessories for decoration. At the end of the process, participants are asked to fill out a survey reviewing the event.

“Some of these kids say it was the best day of their lives  because  they  have never had the chance to give back before. They loved it,” Layla Wofsy said. “They want to keep doing more—anything they can to help.”

Sami Levin ’19 is a lifelong friend of Layla Wofsy  and   has  seen  the  philanthropy   flourish throughout the years.

“My experience has been amazing. I’ve seen it develop from a small event in the Wofsy’s living room to an event held in numerous states,” Levin said.

Stuffed With Love has expanded to cities like Bridgeport, Harlem, and has even been held within cities in Florida. The foundation frequently receives grants, so that Stuffed With Love may service areas of lower socioeconomic status. Hallie Wofsy finds that concept of giving important, especially in areas where this concept is foreign. She feels that some students are less aware of the satisfaction one receives from giving, as they are more adapted to being given.

“A large part of Kidz Give Bak today is to allow inner city kids the same ability: to be empowered and give back to their communities,” Hallie Wofsy said. “Through grants, KGB is able to host these events in inner city neighborhoods so that all kids, regardless of their financial background, can feel good about making a difference in their communities.”

Stuffed With Love is holding their annual event Nov. 25, 2016 at The Norfield Grange in Weston from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., requiring a $25 registration fee from each party. They encourage everybody available to come out and participate.

“Kids are all coming together to give back to their community without the help of parents,” Hallie Wofsy said. “Just kids helping kids.”