The beginning of Warm Huggs started off in a place that was very cold.
In December of 2019, my father was in home hospice care. I spent every waking moment I could at my parents’ house, beside his bed just to be near him a little while longer. As fate would have it, that last week with him I happened to be sicker than I have ever been in my life. So there we were together, my dad dying, and myself feeling as if I was doing the same.
As being the only boy of seven children, there was no empathy for how sick I was feeling from my sisters. In fact, the consensus that they had come to was that I was just looking for attention.
Luckily for me (and now all of you) my little niece did not share the same nonchalance for my wellbeing as I sat there shaking and shivering. She was only four at the time, and asked me if I was okay. When I had told her that I was not feeling well, she took it upon herself to run out to her parents' car and bring me “Bear-Bear” which was her favorite teddy bear. She handed me Bear-Bear, and as I hugged her precious teddy bear, (which due to it being winter) was colder than I was, a thought came to my mind.
Why is this bear not warm? Why does this bear not heat up? I wanted a warm bear. A Warm Hugg. Something that could heat me up when the world seemed cold. A bear that could give me the warmth that I needed at the time.
I then decided that my children needed to have a teddy bear that would be heated. After a few weeks of online searching, and not being able to find exactly what I envisioned for my children, I opted to instead make my own. I did not want to go the route that I saw most of the “heated” stuffed animals had gone, which filled the animal with rice or beans, and required it to be microwaved. I wanted one that would be able to heat itself.
I took my three children to the store, and they each picked out a stuffed animal that they liked. I purchased some heating coils and a battery and created a hodgepodge of wires and fluff in the front room as I attempted to create something that my children would love and treasure.
Later that night, when my wife arrived home, our kids rushed to show her the stuffed animals that they picked out, and that I had made warm for them. They showed her how they heated up, and she expressed what a cool idea it was. We took the stuffed toys around, and at every turn there was another person encouraging me to spread the love of these warm animals to people who needed them.
This is where the journey started to become real. I played around with components and wires, making sure that they would not catch fire. Looking into poly-fill for the animals, again, for safety. And trying to find just the right animals that were fully manufactured and made in the United States to bring my idea to life.
And here we are. Warm Huggs is coming to life before my eyes. This journey would not have even been possible if it were not for my dad. He will never know that all of this was started because of the love I had, and still have for him. Love that was the reason that I refused to leave his side in those last days as he was dying, and I felt the same. It is in his memory that I have a mission now: to spread the love, one Warm Hugg at a time.