Ridgefield resident Campbell Kinsman is a nonprofit founder who has helped raise more than $30,000 for children with parents in the military. She\u2019s also a sophomore in Ridgefield High School who came up with the idea for her organization \u2014 BearHug \u2014 two years ago, when she was in the eighth grade. \u201cThe teacher gave us a project called \u2018Making Histories\u2019 where we had to help someone,\u201d she said. \u201cA lot of girls decided to help veterans, and it got me thinking about their families. So I came up with BearHug.\u201d The organization focuses on providing comfort for military children by sending care packages or financial support. \u201cThe most important part is that each package has a note from another parent or child,\u201d said Campbell. \u201cIt will just say something like \u2018Dear friend, we\u2019re thinking of you.\u2019\u201d Ridgefield support Over the years, Campbell had support and involvement from her family and the greater Ridgefield community. Her mother, Christy Kinsman, is the owner of the Little House Shoppe in town, and has been a great resource for Campbell in her mission. Her friends help her write letters. Her older brother \u2014 a senior at RHS \u2014\u00a0loads up his car with care packages and drives them to the post office. She was part of Kids Fest, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, on April 23. This month she partnered with Vineyard Vines in Westport and New Canaan for their \u201cShop for a Cause\u201d fundraising event being held Saturday May 20. Help comes in many different ways, Campbell believes. \u201cThe first year we started, our family lived near a woman who\u2019s associated with Gold Star Mothers,\u201d she said. \u201cI didn\u2019t know about it until this woman came and approached me. Her children were in the military and she had names and addresses of children with families in military.\u201d Where to look She sent care packages to those addresses for a year and a half, until parents started writing back their appreciation and notifying BearHug they had come home. Campbell said her organization is always looking for more families it can help. Given the nature of the military and its confidentiality protocols, it isn\u2019t always easy. \u201cPeople aren\u2019t usually willing to give out military children\u2019s names and addresses, which is understandable,\u201d said Campbell. \u201cSo I\u2019ve been reaching out to the bases. I send the packages to the bases and they send them to the military children.\u201d That way isn\u2019t as personal as when she has the name and address herself, but she trusts them completely. \u201cEven though I send to military bases, it\u2019s important for people to know that they can reach out to me if they know a military child,\u201d she said \u201cThe best donation anyone could give BearHug right now is another kid to send a package to.\u201d The hang of it Back when the nonprofit first started, BearHug would take up around 18 hours of Campbell\u2019s week. But through the years, she said, she\u2019s learned how to navigate her way through the nonprofit system, and has also became more efficient with her packaging process. \u201cI would sit in the basement and make 40 care packages,\u201d she said. \u201cNow I\u2019ve gotten a lot faster at it, so it really only takes maybe five hours to do 40 care packages.\u201d Campbell said boys are the hardest to shop for. She doesn\u2019t like to assume what toys the children will like based on their gender. \u201cIt\u2019s hard to find gender-neutral toys \u2014 there\u2019s only so much I can give them,\u201d she said. \u201cI have an older brother, and when I was younger he and my dad always bonded over football and lacrosse and I wanted to be part of the conversation. When I was little girl I would\u2019ve been very excited to get a football.\u201d She organizes the boxes by age, and labels them accordingly so that children receive age-appropriate toys. Campbell has wanted to run a charity since she was a little girl. One of her favorite aspects is networking and building relationships with other organizations. \u201cI like being able to reach out to Vineyard Vines or Build-A-Bear \u2014 that sort of thing,\u201d she said. \u201cI feel like it\u2019s making me more mature.\u201d For her, the best part is hearing back from the children or their parents. \u201cIt happens so rarely,\u201d she said. \u201cThey just tell me that the packages had a really big impact on their kids\u2019 life, and that\u2019s really good to hear.\u201d \u201cI know it sounds clich\u00e9, but it\u2019s good to hear that it\u2019s actually working and helping \u2014 the reassurance that care packages were a good path to go down.\u201d For more information or to make a donation, visit https:\/\/www.bearhug.biz\/.