Teen honored for sending teddy bears with messages of hope to kids in war-torn Ukraine
Sen. Richard Blumenthal called a local teen's effort to help Ukrainian kids "an essential contribution to the save-Ukraine cause."
"My mother and I were devastated to see the atrocities taking place in Ukraine," said 17-year-old Justin Gutierrez, who founded "Operation Ship-A-Bear", which sends hundreds of teddy bears to kids in Ukraine.
The bears are accompanied by note cards that contain supportive messages from students in Stamford.
Gutierrez said the note cards are translated by children at the School for Ukrainian Studies, which is also in Stamford.
"If we could have American students writing cards to accompany the teddy bears, then it would send a message to the Ukrainian children that there are people in the world who care," Gutierrez said.
"I've seen these children. I know how much these bears will mean to them as a source of strength and courage which they desperately need at a time of most severe and serious challenge," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal honored the teen at a ceremony in Bridgeport Saturday.
Gutierrez said when he was a kid, his teddy bear was like a security blanket and he wanted to give Ukrainian kids that same comfort.