Lausanne Collegiate School junior Eden Siskind recently received word that she had been named a Huggable Heroes semifinalist by Build-A-Bear Workshop for her work in helping the children of Darfur. More than 1,000 nominations were received. Eden, who was nominated by a family friend, was one of 80 semi-finalists named for her leadership and volunteerism efforts.
In preparation for her Bat Mitzvah in the 7th grade, Eden began reflecting on her grandfather’s childhood experience during and after the Holocaust. Eden shares, “My mom always talked about things that he saw that should never have been seen by a child.”
Eden’s whole family immigrated to the United States through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Through her connections with HIAS, Eden learned more about the children of Darfur who were suffering atrocities they too should not have had to bear.
Determined to help these children in ways her grandfather had not been helped, Eden organized a 5K to raise money to develop art therapy programs for the children of Darfur now living as refugees in Chad. “My grandfather didn’t have therapy to go through,” says Eden. “This is my way of helping the children.”
Eden has continued to host her 5K each year to support the art therapy programs and to purchase art supplies. HIAS has developed four refugee camps during this time and Eden’s efforts have helped them open a fifth refugee camp.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop organization will narrow down the 80 semi-finalists to 15 and will award each of the finalists a $6,500 college scholarship and $2,500 to each finalist’s charity. Additionally finalists will be invited to a summer leadership conference. And, even if Eden isn't named a finalist, she says she still gets a free build-a-bear.