Home Bears

It started out as an idea at summer camp, when 12-year-old Annabelle Buyck, a student at Community School, was working on a screenprint of bears and came up with the idea of making stuffed animals to donate.

Community School has Friday Groups, which are full day elective classes that run for six weeks, and Annabelle designed a group called Home Bears as a class for students to learn how to sew.

She created a pattern, and funds for the supplies were donated by her brother Max, age 16, a student at Community High School, and from Emilie Temeles, a teacher at Community School whose daughter Abby (a former Community School student) works for Vermont Teddy Bear and was able to donate unused fabric.

After searching for places to donate the finished products, Annabelle came across the Rehousing Youth for Success in Education initiative and set the goal of making 32 bears to donate to homeless children.

“I am incredibly proud of our students. What I love is that this is a two-fold project: our students are learning an important skill but are also learning about the issue of homelessness in the Roanoke Valley, and seeing they can make a difference. I think we often see heros as people who become famous, who are starting major national and international programs, but the true difference comes in the every day actions of individuals,” says Katrina Hill, lead teacher of the class. She’s noticed that the student-led project has empowered Annabelle and her classmates, and that many of them have stepped up as leaders.

Katrina sums up the project with one of her favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”  She adds, “this is a small thing, but it may make a difference to one child, and that ripples, right?”

To learn more about RYSE or donate, visit