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Ridgefield Teen Sends 'BearHugs' To Military Families

Ridgefield resident Campbell Kinsman, right, at a fundraiser hosted by Vineyard Vines with her helper, sixth grader Ely Goodwin.
Ridgefield resident Campbell Kinsman, right, at a fundraiser hosted by Vineyard Vines with her helper, sixth grader Ely Goodwin. Photo Credit: Submitted

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- What started as a school project has turned into a full blown 501(c)(3) nonprofit for 15-year-old Campbell Kinsman.

The Ridgefield High School sophomore came up with the idea after an eighth-grade teacher assigned the class a yearlong project on making a difference.

"It sounds cliche, I know," said Kinsman, "But helping others is always something I wanted to do."

And so, despite not having any family or friends in the military, the then 13-year-old created BearHug , which sends monthly care packages to children whose parents are deployed. The goal is to ease their loneliness and anxieties by letting them know someone cares.

Each package includes letters from other children thanking them for their sacrifice for our country.

Since forming the organization three years ago, Kinsman has raised more than $30,000 and sent close to 500 packages. Her goal is to reach 10,000.

"I'm not sure when that will happen that but that's my plan," she said.

In fact, the Ridgefield resident has lots of plans, including a book she's writing -- to hopefully be finished by the end of the summer -- so that when she's unavailable to go to schools and Scout meetings to talk about BearHug -- college looms after all --  the book can speak for her. Right now, she goes to a lot of schools to gather letters and help spread her altruistic message.

Kinsman is also big on outreach and recently partnered with Vineyard Vines in Westport and New Canaan for their “Shop for a Cause” fundraising event. No donation to BearHug, she said, is too small. Money goes towards postage and gifts and toys for the children.

Go to www.bearhug.biz/ for more information.

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