Holiday Hugs 2010 Campaign Begins for Operation Hug-A-Hero

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Operation Hug-A-Hero kicks off its 2nd Annual Holiday Hugs Campaign to provide Hug-A-Hero dolls to the children of deployed military and law enforcement families this holiday season.

We have pictures that the kids have posted all around the house and even our 16 month old goes to the door, opens it to look outside and says, Dada Dada... gone.

Operation Hug-A-Hero, a 501(c)(3) organization serving the children of our deployed military, law enforcement, and others separated from their families in defense of our country, kicks off its 2nd annual Holiday Hugs drive this week with the goal of raising $25,000 in 60 days to provide Hug-A-Hero dolls to children separated from their parents this holiday season.

Operation Hug-A-Hero Executive Director, Lisa Berg, reports a tremendous increase in the applications for the Hug-A-Hero doll program in the weeks leading up to and just after the holiday season. Berg explains that this is partly due to the fact that the holidays are very hard for children who are separated from a parent, or, in the worst case, if they have lost a parent serving in the line of duty. "Separation anxiety is often heightened during the holidays--a time that is already particularly stressful for the family back on the homefront or that is grieving a loss," explains Berg. "Not only do Hug-A-Hero dolls provide tremendous comfort for these children, but they are also a way for the deployed parent to see that they are not forgotten and their kids do want to include them in their daily lives."

These are excerpts from just three recent Operation Hug-A-Hero applications:

"We have pictures that the kids have posted all around the house and even our 16 month old goes to the door, opens it to look outside and says, Dada Dada... gone." My husband's worst fear is that the youngest two won't remember who he is." -- Devon Medina, US Marine Corps Spouse

"My husband is on his 3rd deployment, he's in Afghanistan. We have 3 kids that all have Autism. I saw a child today that had one of your dolls and I loved it! This is something that would really benefit my kids. Autism already affects their ability to connect with us as parents, and being deployed makes it even harder. But having one of these dolls would be a great way to remind them that they have a Daddy who loves them!" -- Amber Mead, US Marine Corps Spouse

"I just deployed again and would love to be able to give something to my children, especially the twins, so that they don't forget what I look like... as I have been out of their lives more than I have been in it since they were born. I know that this is something that they will keep for a lifetime and know that their Daddy loves them and is missing them just as much as they miss me." -- Jeremy Spence, Petty Officer 2nd Class, US Navy

Operation Hug-A-Hero is inviting retailers, businesses, schools, churches, and other interested organizations to adorn a holiday tree with Holiday Hug ornaments. Each $25 donation represents a Hug-A-Hero doll to be gifted to an eligible child, but donations of any denomination are welcomed. Donors can write a personal message to the child recipient on the back of their ornament which will be used as a gift tag for the Hug-A-Hero doll that Operation Hug-A-Hero will send to the child.

All Holiday Hugs 2010 materials are provided by Operation Hug-A-Hero-the sponsors simply provide the tree or other display for the ornaments. Alternatively, sponsors can initiate a donate-at-the-register campaign and display the ornaments in storefront windows or other prominent location.

"We are thrilled at the early response from organizations and businesses all over the country who are becoming Holiday Hugs supporters," shared Stephanie Crabb, Director of Development for Operation Hug-A-Hero. "2010 has been a challenging year for fundraising for all non-profit organizations and we have hundreds of children on our waiting list right now. Our goal with Holiday Hugs 2010 is to provide Hug-A-Hero dolls to each of these families on our waiting list as well as fulfill the new requests we know are coming."

Individuals who wish to donate to the Holiday Hugs 2010 drive directly can do so via the Operation Hug-A-Hero website. Donors may include a personal message to the child recipient and it will be written on a Holiday Hugs ornament on your behalf.

The Holiday Hugs Campaign will continue through January 31, 2010.

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Stephanie Crabb

Lisa Berg
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