Huggins helps celebrate Hug-a-Bear program
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 00:11
West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins doesn't always get a chance to show his softer side, but Monday he was off the court and in the classroom.
Huggins visited the WVU College of Human Resources & Education Nursery School to celebrate the start of the Bear Care Project.
The Bear Care Project is designed to foster a sense of community and build relationships between local children, WVU students and the elderly within the Morgantown community.
As part of the project, children enrolled in the Nursery School will deliver 52 teddy bears to Mapleshire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center residents next Monday, Nov. 21.
The project is a joint initiative between the children of the Nursery School, the WVU Association for the Education of Young Children and the Friends Gift Shop at WVU Hospitals.
The Hug-A-Bears are decorated like the Mountaineer – complete with coonskin caps and miniature basketballs. The bears also play the popular unofficial state song "Country Roads" by John Denver when squeezed.
The bears were purchased by parents of children enrolled in the Nursery School.
Bobbie Warash, director of the WVU Nursery School, said she was inspired to start the project by a visit to a local nursing home.
"I saw a lady holding a bear, and she was so proud of it," she said.
Warash said she designed the project to enrich the nursing home and bring the community together.
"It's so multipurpose because you have kids, WVU students and the elderly involved," she said.
These bears also support the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Foundation, a cancer research endowment established by Coach Huggins. For each bear sold, $10 is donated to the foundation, making the total contribution around $500.
"I think it's a great promotion, especially for the kids," he said.
Huggins also posed for several pictures with the children and their bears.
"They came to me and wanted to know if I would endorse this event, and I agreed so long as a portion of the donations went to cancer research," he said.
Kaitlin Buchanan, a second-year education graduate student and president of the WVU Association for the Education of Young Children, said she felt the project helps develop a community identity.
"I think it's a great project to link members of the community, and since we're a college town, what better way to come together than with Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers," Buchanan said.