Stuffy snuggles cheer heart-sick kids

In a recovery crib inside B.C. Children’s Hospital, baby Sienna Caterina Smith made a friend for life. 

The one-year-old Manitoba girl needed heart surgery and Luna was her crib mate.

“When we arrived at the hospital, they gave Siena Luna, and Siena just gravitated to Luna, like any child would,” said Sabrina Castellano Smith, Siena’s mom.

Luna was big on snuggles but shy on conversation. It didn’t matter, because Luna the stuffy gave Siena, the sick baby, comfort. 

A decade later, Luna and Siena are still best buds. And Siena has made it her mission to give other sick kids a stuffy for comfort after heart surgery. 

In 2021, Siena and her parents started I Heart Bear Hugs, a charity that delivers stuffed animals to kids in Manitoba and Saskatchewan who have to leave their home province for heart surgery.

A girl sits with her dog and stuffies.
Manitoba girl Siena Caterina Smith, with Luna her stuffy, started her charity in 2021. She has since collected 600 stuffed animals for children with heart trouble. (Min Hecky Tresoor)

“When we started this fundraiser, I honestly thought we would collect 50 teddy bears. It’s hard to believe that 12 months later, 600 teddy bears have been donated in Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” said Siena’s mom, Sabrina Castellano Smith. 

“It makes me feel good that other kids are getting affected by this fundraiser,” said Siena, 11. 

Siena’s mission to give bears to sick kids is now the focus of I Heart Bear Hugs, a new short profile video.

The video is the work of Min Hecky Tresoor, Kaitlyn Caballero and Shaina Maralit, three filmmaking students from the Create program at Sisler High School in Winnipeg, which offers multimedia training and experience. The three filmmakers worked in collaboration with CBC Manitoba’s Creator Network

Meet the filmmakers

A young person in a patterned shirt poses and smiles slightly at the camera.
​Min Hecky Tresoor took graphic design at Sisler High School for three years before graduating in 2022. They want to further pursue graphic design as well as filmmaking and editing. In their free time, they enjoy playing ‘cozy’ video games, watching vlogs and hanging out with their cats. (Carmen Acuna)
A young woman in a green dress poses and smiles at the camera.
Kaitlyn Caballero graduated from Sisler High School in 2022 and is pursuing a career in graphic design. She has a strong visual arts background and likes to spend her free time painting and hanging out with friends. (Carmen Acuna)
A young woman holding a camera in her right hand poses and smiles at the camera.
Shaina Maralit graduated from Sisler High School in 2022. She loves filmmaking and editing. If you don’t see her holding a camera, she is probably busy dancing in her room. (Carmen Acuna)

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