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.
“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
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