The West Virginia State Council and AVVA have teamed up for Operation Sweet Dreams, a project giving each child of a deploying service member a Build-a-Bear with a recorded message from their parent prior to departing for service.
WVSC has been distributing the bears for over 10 years, starting at a Region 3 Annual Conference. To date, approximately 4,100 of the $30-$35 bears have been distributed.
Service members says it makes their job a little more easier knowing that their children are comforted by their voice in a teddy bear at home.
During a recent yellow ribbon ceremony, a parent, “Emily”, thanked VVA for the Operation Sweet Dreams project and providing each of her three children a teddy bear.
“This is so meaningful to my family and I truly appreciate the thought after everything these vets have had to go through, they STILL dedicate their lives to serving this country and making a difference for others,” Emily said. “Even after the ill treatment after the Vietnam war, and treatment of vets in general, they stand united making positive impacts on people’s lives.”
The idea to partner with AVVA and WVSC came to AVVA life member Linda Pritt when she saw a girl comforted by a teddy bear with her father’s voice during a deployment party at the Embassy Suites hotel in Charleston, WV where she works.
AVVA and WVSC attend deployment parties for service members and their families. When they learn the amount of children that will remain home and temporarily without a parent, they order the appropriate number of Build-a-Bears.
During the deployment party, they distribute the voice recorders and teddy bears. Once the recording is made, the bears are closed with the voice recorders and a plastic heart. When a child is missing their parent, they simply squeeze the hand of the bear to hear an encouraging message from their parent.
Since the project kicked off, AVVA and WVSC has easily received donations from local companies, such as auto dealerships, and organizations.
For more information or to donate to Operation Sweet Dreams, please contact Connie Jones at (304) 573-1120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.