WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport sisters Layla and Maya Wofsy may only be in elementary school, but they are determined to put smiles on the faces of children in need all across the country. That's why, with the help of their parents Hallie and Scott, they started the nonprofit Kidz Give Back Foundation.
Since 2007, the Wofsys have opened their home to the community the Friday after Thanksgiving for "Stuffed With Love" parties — an event in which children make stuffed animals for children in need. The Kidz Give Back Foundation, which was launched this year, will enable others across the country to host their own "Stuffed With Love" parties.
"Our goal is to have 'Stuffed With Love' parties in every state," said Layla, 10, whose birthday is Nov. 26. "We hope to inspire more kids to help other kids."
Every year since her 2nd birthday, Layla has made stuffed animals for other children. The birthday tradition started at Build-A-Bear workshop where she would make one stuffed animal to give away.
For her 7th birthday, Layla wanted to host her own stuffed animal party and have her friends make stuffed animals for charity, too. That's how "Stuffed With Love" parties came to be.
"Instead of big birthday parties where I get a lot of presents, I have 'Stuffed With Love' parties," said Layla, a fifth-grader at Coleytown Elementary. "I don't get as many presents, but that's OK with me because we are giving presents to kids who really need them."
Since "Stuffed With Love" began, the Wofsys have teamed with Westporter Al DiGuido, founder of the Westport-based nonprofit Al's Angels. That group provides holiday meals and new toys to children in the tri-state area who suffer from cancer and rare blood diseases.
After the stuffed animals are created, DiGuido distributes them to hospitals and shelters in the tri-state area.
"I like that we get to make stuffed animals, fill them with our love and pass it on to someone else who will love it," said Maya, 8. "So, it's like we are passing on our love."
This year's "Stuffed With Love" party will be held Friday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To participate or to learn about hosting your own "Stuffed With Love" event, contact Hallie Wofsy at Hallie@stuffedeithlove.net or visit the "Stuffed With Love" website.