'Build-a-Bears' sent to military children

The American Legion National Headquarters and a local Christian church shipped 57 “Build-a-Bears” to the children of deployed troops on Dec. 22, courtesy of Hilton Hotels.

“We hold a lot of charitable fundraisers,” said LaShanta Gripper, a sales manager for Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites. “We believe The American Legion was the most appropriate organization to reach out to the families of servicemembers overseas and show our appreciation. The American Legion does a phenomenal job of serving communities, youth and our military. Providing these bears and working with The American Legion is just something that we wanted to do.”

The aptly-named Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Ind., provided the connection needed to locate the families of deployed servicemembers, who will be receiving the bears across the country.

Gary Strader, a member of the Military Support Group at Connection Pointe Christian Church, said that remembering servicemembers and their families is a mission that the 3,500-member church takes seriously.

“Since our Military Support Group was founded in 2003, we have provided more than $40,000 worth of care packages and other support for our troops,” Strader said. “Most soldiers, however, say that their families are constantly on their minds. We think gifts likes these bears are powerful messages of support that we can put right into the hands of their children.”