Cuddly Love for Children in Need

Kealakai Colleado
Kealakai Colleado
Wendy Awai
Wendy Awai
George Churchill
George Churchill

HONOLULU (KHNL) --  It's an event full of cute and cuddly animals, of the stuffed variety to help Hawaii's children.  The 11th Annual Teddy Bear Round-Up and Family Resource Fair exceeded expectations.

Stuffed animals as far as the eye can see.  A big mountain of toys all going to victims of child abuse.  The Colleado-Awai family turned this into a major project.

"To donate to charity all our stuffed animals, six trash bags full," said Kealakai Colleado, a 12-year-old Good Samaritan who is a 7th grader at Kamehameha Schools.

"We got the whole family down," said his aunt Wendy Awai.  "We managed to collect 300 teddy bears."

They're not alone.  Organizers expected to collect 4,300 stuffed animals.  They ended up with more than 7,000.

"We see parents and kids coming in," George Churchill, an event coordinator with Foster Reality. "Kids are giving up their own teddy bears, you know, to help other kids and schools. One school collected 1,200."

The Hawaii chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America says they do this because it means so much to abused children.

"What kind of reaction do you get when you bring these toys to them?" asked KHNL.

"I mean their faces light up," said Churchill. "It's very satisfying for everybody that's involved."

"It's always good to encourage children in any way possible, in any way you can," said Awai.  "So if giving them a teddy bear, makes them smile, then it's all worth it."

And as a mom, Awai says she wants to send a positive message to children.

"I would love for one day my daughter to do the same thing," she said. "It's good to support your community."

The grand total from Saturday's drive is 8,846 stuffed animals donated.  They will be given to family shelters, children's hospitals, and other organizations throughout the state.

The number of confirmed child abuse cases in Hawaii has tripled over the past 20 years with only 10 percent reported to the state Child Welfare Services, according to Prevent Child Abuse America.

In 2007, more than 3 million alleged child abuse cases were reported to child protective services agencies in the United States.  About a third of those were confirmed cases of child abuse.