“Comfort Friends is a non-profit organization that sends out teddy bears and stuffed animals to kids, teens & young adults who are suffering from mental illness. This organization was started by 3 people, Gabbi, Nicholas, and Lilly. Our mission is to spread awareness for mental health issues while being able to bring smiles to people’s faces.” HAIF had the chance to speak to Gabbi about their organization, read on to learn more.
Tell us a little about yourself, your project, and how it began.
Hi, my name is Gabbi. I’m 17 years old and I live in the Bay Area, CA. I absolutely love cats, stuffed animals, and almost all types of art. Comfort Friends is a non-profit organization that sends out teddy bears/stuffed animals to kids/teens & young adults who are suffering from mental illnesses. This all started when a few friends of mine and I were talking about what helps calm us when we’re going through a tough time, and all of us mentioned some kind of teddy bear or stuffed animal. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that just something as simple as a teddy bear could go a long way. Comfort is something everyone deserves to feel.
How have your own stuffed animals helped you in the past? And why do you think they provide such a special kind of comfort?
I personally have really bad social anxiety so I take them with me to school as a coping mechanism and they help me get through panic attacks or just really rough nights when I’m down. I think they help a lot because in those times of need or when you feel completely alone, they’ll always be there.
If there was someone who wanted to request a stuffed animal but felt silly about doing so, what advice could you offer them?
I would say, just go for it! There’s nothing to be ashamed of, I know tons of people both younger and older who still use stuffed animals as a sense of comfort.
What is your goal and why is it important to you?
My goal is to spread awareness for mental health issues while being able to bring smiles to people’s faces. This is very important to me because I myself struggle with depression and anxiety. I know how hard it is to feel so alone or to be told your feelings are invalid.
Do you have any specific future plans or goals you hope to accomplish?
We hope to expand our impact, we want to help spread awareness to people all around the world.
How can people contribute and/or get involved?
People can contribute or get involved by donating new or gently used stuffed animals. You can message us on Instagram or contact us through our website. If you can’t donate, just helping spread the word would be a huge help.
Thank you so much for telling us about your organization, Gabbi!