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Making a Difference: Shriners Hospital Build-A-Bear Den

This week on My Greenville Home Radio, Dan is talking with Sensei Kevin Ballenger from Hurricane Martial Arts. In addition to being an amazing martial arts coach for kids of all ages, Kevin enjoys volunteering in his community. Kevin has volunteered at the Shriners Hospital for the last 10 years, making popcorn, leading karate-based rehab classes, and now hosting a Build-a-Bear Drive. Today, Kevin shared with us the heart behind this amazing initiative and how you can get involved.

What is the Shriners Hospital Build-A-Bear Den?

Kevin started his Build-A-Bear Fundraiser 7 years ago. At the Shriners Hospital, children often undergo intense surgeries that can cause apprehension, fear, or anxiety. To help with those feelings, children get to visit the Build-A-Bear den and pick out a bear to go into surgery with them. Volunteers have even stepped up to create casts and other accessories for the bears so when the child wakes up, their bear looks just like them. This simple gesture means the world to these kids and provides a sense of comfort during a scary time.

The first year Kevin organized this fundraiser with Hurricane Martial Arts Center III, his current gym on Haywood Road, and was able to donate over 50 bears to the hospital. Last year with the help of all the Hurricane Martial Arts Centers, local 9 Rounds Gyms, and the community at large, Kevin was able to deliver over 430 bears and $2000 in gift cards to Shriners! This year, Kevin hopes to donate over 1000 bears.

How can I support the kids at the Shriners Hospital and donate a bear?

If you would like to support Kevin’s work with the children at the Shriners Hospital, there are two major ways to contribute.

First, go the Build-A-Bear shop and pick out a bear yourself! Kevin accepts drop-off donations at his Martial Arts Center and will gladly include your purchase in his deliver to the hospital.

If in-person shopping isn’t your thing – or, as Kevin pointed out, you want to avoid purchasing multiple bears for all your little helpers – you can donate through Kevin’s GoFundMe and he will purchase the bear on your behalf. Even better, Kevin makes a quick stop at Sam’s Club where he multiplies money before buying bears. Did you know Sam’s Club sells $50 gift cards for $37? Kevin uses the monetary donations to purchase gift cards and uses the new total to buy Build-A-Bear stuffed animals. How amazing is that!?

Most importantly, the deadline to donate to the Shriners Hospital Build-A-Bear Den is Wednesday, December 21nd, so be sure to either drop your bear off at Hurricane Martial Arts Center III or make your monetary donation by that date!

Donate to the GoFundMe HERE!


A picture of Real Estate Agent Dan Hamilton

Dan Hamilton is the founder of Hamilton & Co. and the lead listing agent for the team. He is the only agent in the Upstate endorsed by Shark Tank star and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran. Additionally, Dan hosts a weekly radio show on The Answer 94.5 and 106.3 WORD giving tips and advice on real estate and is a frequent contributor for real estate on Your Carolina TV show on WSPA Channel 7.

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