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Au Pairs Share Bears and Love with the Children of Staten Island University Hospital


Au pairs from New York City took to Build-a-Bear in March to create special gifts for the children receiving care at Staten Island University Hospital. Together au pairs from Germany, Brazil, Ukraine, France, Colombia, China, Mexico, and Spain, created a total of 24 bears, enough for each bed in the pediatric unit. They took their time crafting each bear with love, so that child would feel extra special. As each au pair stepped up to the stuffing station, she beamed as she designed her custom bear.



Brazilian au pair Louisa shared “When I learned the monthly meeting was going to be to make bears for sick children, I couldn't imagine the real feeling that I would have with this. I realized what I was about to do when I put my foot on the pedal to stuff the bear and all the magic feelings came. Children are angels and each one has one special mission here. It's hard to know that some of them cannot have the freedom that all kids should have because of their health. When you do something with all your heart and with love, you totally make the difference! No money or words can describe it!”

"When you do something with all your heart and with love, you totally make the difference! No money or words can describe it!” - Au Pair Louisa from Brazil

On a very cold morning, only a few days after a big snowstorm, Area Director Samantha Sykula lead the au pairs to the University Hospital’s Pediatric Unit to deliver their gifts. Child Life Specialist Vivian Alestra showed the au pairs around the pediatric unit, explaining a little bit about each patient they were about to meet. After hearing the backgrounds of the children, the group of au pairs decided with the utmost care which bear would be the right fit for each child.

The au pairs then took each specially selected bear and presented it the families. It was beautiful to watch every child light up when they saw their new bear friend. Many of the families and au pairs became emotional during this exchange. It was a truly moving experience for everyone there.

“One of the most beautiful experiences of my life was to deliver teddy bears to the hospital, I had the wonderful opportunity to give one of the sick children a rabbit that I chose for a very special reason. My host child is a 19-month-old, beautiful little girl, who loves stuffed rabbits. When I saw the stuffed rabbit, I knew I wanted to give it to someone very special. When the little girl saw the rabbit, I chose, her mother cried and told us that her grandfather had recently died and had given a rabbit to her, this rabbit is the little girl’s favorite toy. This new rabbit, remind the mother of him. In situations like these, I feel the most fortunate to be able to live this experience and love what I do as an au pair” stated Melissa from Colombia.


Au pair Andrea from Brazil shared, “Going to a hospital with the bears we made for kids that are in a delicate situation was something that encouraged me to go. Thumbs up for the lady who worked there: she was so kind and happy to see us there! The smile on their faces and the 'Awww!' when some opened the boxes was worth it. One of the moms there cried and that broke my heart. As an au pair I learned how to love the kids I take care of and I can't think of the day I'm leaving them. Imagine for a MOTHER to see her most precious thing on a hospital bed... Thanks for the chance of doing some good, that was a changing experience.”

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