Courtesy Photo

If you are the lucky recipient of a stuffed bunny, duck, or bear this Easter, or the generous giver of one, consider spreading the good cheer to a child who may dearly need the gesture of love. With Bear Hugs, a teddy bear donation program for Syrian refugee children, UCSB senior Melissa Ha and junior Jennifer Lin hope to create an international youth-to-youth connection and send a message of solidarity to the thousands of kids stranded in camps in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Ha, a global studies major, was inspired by the teddies of Valentine’s Day to send a message of shared humanity and cultural exchange. “We get to recognize and be aware that other kids around the world may not be as fortunate as us and allow us to share this moment of compassion and understanding,” she said.

Bear Hugs is aiming to send 250 bears from the West Coast. The community at large is encouraged to drop off teddy bears and other stuffed animals at one of three collection centers (Wake Cup and Spudnuts in Isla Vista, or CorePower Yoga in Goleta) or contribute monetary donations for school supplies through


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