Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Donate Beanie Babies, Receive Children’s Smiles

For almost two years, military members assigned to the Mideast have been collecting little toys for the local children. Family, friends, neighborhoods, local organizations, anyone visiting BeaniesForBaghdad have donated Beanie Babies, stuffed animals, school supplies, Frisbees, balls, miscellaneous sporting equipment, toy cars (i.e., Hot Wheels, Matchbox , etc.), individually wrapped treats, and anything else that all children love and appreciate. They live with nothing so little things have a major impact.

Spc. Karl Johnson assigned to the 363rd MPAD published the following press release on February 1, 2006:

Strike Brigade brings security and smiles


BAGHDAD -- In a country where having a toy is a rarity, Soldiers passing out beanie babies to Iraqi children can become very popular.

"The children's faces just light up when they see you," said Sgt. 1st Class Alan Certain, Company C, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "It's amazing to see what an effect a simple toy can have on a kid."

The civil affairs Soldiers pass out the small toys during their missions in central Iraq. To date more than 150,000 of the miniature stuffed animals have been distributed throughout the war torn nation with the help of Beanies for Baghdad, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the rebuilding effort.

What started as an attempt to get one child to smile has turned into a project that is helping Soldiers build positive bonds with the Iraqi people.

"This is forming the beginning of friendships between the children and the Soldiers," said Donna Ward, Beanies for Baghdad project manager. "The hope for a better tomorrow is found in the children of Iraq."

"We are hoping to see an entire new generation of Iraqis who trust that we are their friends and that we're here to help them." said Capt. Darrell Retheford, C-490th CA Batt.

According to the project manager, the success of Beanies for Baghdad has just begun. "We have so much more we hope to accomplished," she said. "These little ones didn't ask to be born in the conditions they are growing up in and this is a way we can make a difference."

"I personally feel this is a small gesture we as Americans and other countries can do to help our Soldiers sew seeds of friendship and to give these children something to smile about in a war torn land."

More information about Beanies for Baghdad and how you can help can be found at their website, BeaniesForBaghdad.
Maybe Staff Sergeant Edwin H. Dazachacon from the neighborhood even participated. This little project brings a positive thought during a not-so-positive time.

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