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Alumna celebrates holidays with ‘Cubs for Christmas’

Morales, friends build 144 Teddy Bears for hospitalized children

Kennedy Catholic 2008 graduate Sam Morales knows what it’s like to celebrate Christmas from inside a hospital.  She remembers being there with her brother, Nolan Morales from the Class of 2005, while he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Nolan died during Little Christmas in January of 2005, but his sister still recalls how nice it felt to be surprised by Samaritans delivering presents to the hospital on Christmas.  And for the past four years, Sam and her boyfriend, Ryan Silberquit, have been doing their part to bring a little bit of Christmas to children in local hospitals.

It began four years ago, when Morales and Silberquit visited the Build-A-Bear Workshop® at the Danbury Fair Mall on Christmas Eve.  But instead of bringing their cuddly creature home, they went to the Putnam Hospital Center to find someone in need of holiday hugs.

“The nurses were thrilled and delivered it to whoever was admitted there that night,” Morales said.  “From that point on, we decided it was something we wanted to do every year.”

Last Christmas, they extended the invitation to friends and hoped to end up with 10 bears.  Their charity was rewarded with almost 20, plus other kid-friendly toys and games, which were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital.  This year, the couple was building toward a goal of 40 bears that can be delivered to multiple area hospitals.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Morales and friends more than tripled that amount at the Danbury Fair Mall Build-A-Bear Workshop store, stuffing their holiday spirit into what they are calling “Cubs for Christmas”.  According to their Facebook event page, more than 45 people had signed up for the bear building.

“While I never taught Sam, I am incredibly proud that our alumni continue to act with courage and compassion,” the Rev. Mark Vaillancourt, president of Kennedy, said.  “She has turned a difficult personal memory into a positive Christmas for area children.  To quote O. Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi’, ‘let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest’.”

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