SEBRING — Several local Usborne Books & More consultants, or “book ladies” as they call themselves, are working together to raise support and awareness of their Cuddle Bear Book Drives benefiting Champion for Children Foundation of Highlands County.

Through the collection of donations from their local community and networks, these consultants are working to donate over 100 sets of Cuddle Bear Books and plush teddy bears to the local organization that works directly with Highlands County children and families.

The Cuddle Bear Book Drive is a national initiative supported by the Usborne Books & More Company (UBAM), an award-winning children’s book publisher, that helps raise awareness for several causes throughout the country. Consultants nationwide are running book drives to benefit NICUs, foster organizations, schools, and others that serve children and families at local levels. In addition to matching the funds that consultants raise with an additional 50% in free books, Usborne Books & More donates 5% of all Cuddle Bear books and plush bear sales to the Scott Carter Foundation to fund childhood cancer research.

Dr. Jazmin Caton, UBAM consultant, has been working for the company for over two years and said, “This is an incredible opportunity that our company provides its consultants to give back both locally, in their own communities, and nationally as well.”

Caton and her team were motivated to participate in this year’s Cuddle Bear Book Drive for very personal reasons. Originally from Highlands County, she reached out to her teammate, Maggie Foster, and high-school classmate, Rita Graham, to ask if they would like to work together on this year’s Cuddle Bear Book Drive in honor of Rita’s son, Roman. Roman was diagnosed with pediatric cancer last year and both Caton and Maggie felt this was a fantastic opportunity to honor him, his family, and his fight against cancer. When discussing who they would like to make their final donation to, all three agreed that the Champion for Children Foundation of Highlands County would be the place. The decision to partner with the foundation was extra special for Caton who is running her book drive in honor of both Roman and her nephew, Ezekiel Garcia, who passed away in March of this year and received incredible support from Champion for Children.

The Cuddle Bear Book Drive will run through Sept. 25 with hopes to make final donations of books and bears to Champion for Children Foundation in time for the holiday season. For more information or to make a donation to the Cuddle Bear Book Drive, contact Dr. Jazmin Caton at 850-322-0856 or jazmin.caton@gmail.com .