These cuddly teddy bears deliver a dose of delight to kids in refugee camps.

Look at this adorable teddy bear.

This is a Threadies bear.


SO CUTE. All photos from Threadies, used with permission.

Threadies bears are incredibly special.

Threadies bears have a very important job.

They bring childhood comforts to kids in refugee camps.

The idea for Threadies came after co-creator Steve Lehmann visited Haiti a year after the massive 2010 earthquake, where he observed that for the children growing up in the wake of the disaster, it was "as if the basic ingredients of childhood had been violently ripped away."

Looking back on his own childhood, Lehmann remembered how much comfort he got from his favorite stuffed animal. And while his childhood is without a doubt a vastly different experience from that of a child refugee, it occurred to him that perhaps there was something universal about the comforting quality of a stuffed animal.

Here's Lehmann during that trip to Haiti.

After visiting refugees in Haiti — along with refugees in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda — Lehmann resolved to find a way to bring those ingredients of childhood to children living in poverty, war, or in the wake of natural disasters.

Threadies are made specifically with humanitarian emergencies in mind.

Lehmann enlisted help from his friend Andrew Jones, and the two started work on creating, as Jones describes it, "a teddy bear that is both adorably cute and extremely comforting."

After two years of work and the help of experts and nongovernmental organizations around the world, Threadies was born.

Hello, Threadies! You're looking absolutely adorable today!

The first batch of 60 Threadies bears was delivered to Syrian children at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan in August 2015.

The kids at Azraq loved the hand-sewn bears. For a group of children for whom relocation from their homes has been especially hard, the bears were an unexpected comfort. While there's no way to make up for the loss of their homes or the distance from relatives, the children greeted their new stuffed animals with smiles, laughter, and love.

The kids at Azraq loved the bears. One said he's going to name it after his mother.

Each bear comes with a "coping kit." The kit is basically the bear and a set of "coping cards," which fit into its front pocket. The cards are based on the research of Dr. Meghan Marsac of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and they contain useful tips to work through symptoms of trauma, such as night sweats, bed-wetting, bad dreams, and anxiety attacks.

The first delivery was so successful that Lehmann and Jones are ready to take Threadies to the next level.

The pair has enlisted the help of fair trade manufacturer Child's Cup Full, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting refugee women in the West Bank, to produce the bears.

Child's Cup Full trains and employs women, pays them the "wage rate set by the United Nations for a head of a household with children," and helps to fund local childhood education programs.

"We're really proud of this," Threadies co-founder Andrew Jones told Upworthy, acknowledging that, "as a result, each bear from CCF costs us about eight times what it would cost to make in China."

Each handmade bear is a bit different from the others, with fabric and design varying a bit on each one.

CCF works with a group called International Medical Corps (IMC) to make sure the bears reach kids who are the most in need.

For every bear bought in the U.S., a "twin" bear will be delivered to a child in a refugee camp.

In place of the "coping kit" given to the Syrian children, the U.S. bears come with short poems to help their new owners learn about and empathize with the children of the refugee crisis in a gentle, age-appropriate way.

These little poems tackle heavy issues like feeling sad, missing friends, having bad dreams, or being scared.


I'm a grown adult, and I think even I could benefit from these at times.

It costs $40 to buy a Threadies bear and give one to a child in a refugee camp. And while that price may seem a little steep, Jones said the price breaks down into four categories: "labor, programming, logistics, and re-investment."

With an estimated 60 million refugees in the world (half are children), Threadies has their work cut out for them.

In every sense of the word, Threadies is a startup, and Jones said that any money the company raises that doesn't go toward paying the workers, transporting materials and goods, and paying CCF will be reinvested in the company to begin scaling up to get the bears more widely distributed.

"We will not be paying ourselves a dime from the Kickstarter," he said.

"Even if we're wildly successful with Kickstarter, we'll only be able to deliver a fraction of the bears that are truly needed," Jones explained. "In two refugee camps in Jordan alone, we could deliver over 50,000 bears without blinking. The true need is closer to a million, and that's just Syria."

The goal is, with the help of IMC, to be able to swoop in and deliver bears to children wherever there's unrest in the world. ("We want to go to East and Central Africa next," Jones said.)

But right now they're just trying to fund the next batch of bears.

Interested in purchasing your very own bear (and helping fund one for a refugee child)? Check out Threadies on Kickstarter.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less