While children around the world eagerly await the one day of the year where Santa visits with toys in hand, others can expect an extra-special, handmade toy on any day of the year from Campbell Remess. While Remess and Santa may share a penchant for handmade toys and making children smile around the world, Remess, unlike Santa, doesn’t have the help of any elves. In fact, this incredible 13-year-old boy from the Australian island of Tasmania makes all of his toys himself.
Remess is the brains and nimble fingers behind Project 365, which brings to life the boy’s goal of making one stuffed bear a day to give to a sick child in need.
As noted on his Facebook page, the idea came to mind when 9-year-old Remess asked his parents if they could buy Christmas gifts for hospitalized sick children. As one of nine children himself, it was an expense Campbell’s family couldn’t afford. Not taking no for an answer, the boy came up with a solution: make the gifts himself.
Having figured out a sewing pattern for a stuffed bear he found online, Remess’s first attempt at making a toy took five hours, a process he can now complete it one. The final products are one-of-a-kind, bright and fuzzy creations bound to make anyone smile.
Fast-forward to 2017, the now-13-year-old’s story has gone viral. Understandably, Remess has now lost track of how many bears he makes per year. He told CNN he thinks he has now made “over 1,200 to 1,400 bears.”
Although the sheer volume of the toys alone is impressive, what is even more impressive is the difference they’ve made in people’s lives. Remess’s creations are hand-delivered to patients in local hospitals, but also sent worldwide to comfort victims of terror attacks in Brussels and Paris. You can even find his creations on eBay being auctioned off for up to $5,000.
Hand-delivery of the bears is important to Remess, who loves seeing children light up when they receive them: “They smile and some hug me. It makes their whole day better,” he says.
Closer to home, when Remess found out his father had reoccurring cancer a few years ago, he made an extra-special bear to help him beat it once and for all. Now, his dad has been cancer-free for over a year.
What makes these bears so powerful? The “CNN Hero” told the outlet, “The magic in the bears is the hope. It’s the hope that the bears give people.”
Who knew such an enormous amount of hope could be dreamed up by a small boy with a huge heart? As Remess’s mother shared with Today on their segment dedicated to her son, he simply serves as a reminder that, “One small idea, one small gesture can make huge impacts.”
For Remess, that just means changing the world, one bear at a time.
Laura D’Angelo | The Edge Blog