2006-02-23 / Front Page

Twin sisters hope to make Iraqi kids smile with Operation ‘Share Bear’

By Sam Bari

Twin sisters hope to make Iraqi kids smile with Operation ‘Share Bear’

Twins Erin and Danielle Brown have launched Operation Share Bear in Jamestown. Twins Erin and Danielle Brown have launched Operation Share Bear in Jamestown. Jamestown residents Erin and Danielle Brown, both age 16, sent a ‘letter to the editor’ of the Jamestown Press last week informing readers that they were starting a stuffed animal drive for the children in Iraq. They asked readers to send any stuffed toys they cared to donate to their home at 5 Buoy St. Three days after the letter was published, approximately 150 stuffed toys of every description filled their living room sofa and lined the floor. “Operation Share Bear” was off to an auspicious beginning.

In their letter, Erin and Danielle, who are twins, said: “We have a friend who is a soldier in Iraq who says that there are plenty of opportunities to hand out the stuffed animals that people send.

“He reports that the soldiers hand them to the little girls, because they’re cute, and they don’t have anything. But these little girls, who have pretty much nothing, more often than not turn and hand those teddy bears to their younger brothers and sisters.

“Compared to those children, every single one of us is abundantly blessed. Can we share some of that wealth, so that these children can at least have a teddy bear to hold? We have so many stuffed animals that are simply sitting on our shelves, never even played with.

“We want to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of these children, and we’re offering you a chance to help. All it takes are a few stuffed animals to give these children a smile.

“If you have some stuffed animals that are still in relatively good condition, we are looking for donations. We will wash them, and put on new ribbons as needed. If you will call us at 560-0285, we will be happy to pick up stuffed animals, or you can drop them by our house at 5 Buoy St. We are also accepting donations to pay for the postage costs. Thank you so much!”

And these young ladies are indeed making a difference. They feel that it is a good humanitarian gesture as well as a diplomatic effort to “let the Iraqi people know that we sympathize with their situation and that we care about them,” Erin said. “Maybe our contribution is small, but if we can encourage kids across the country to participate and get people to send stuffed animals, the contribution could grow to be something significant” Danielle added.

The Brown twins are from a military family who recently settled in Jamestown because their father, David Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, is assigned to the War College in Newport, where he is an instructor. The girls are contacting friends in Ohio and other areas of the country as well as Germany, where they have been previously stationed, to tell them of the response to their letter, and encourage them to get involved.

“For security reasons, anything sent to Iraq must be addressed to a specific person,” said Dave Brown. “You can’t just send a few hundred toys to a unit and hope they get distributed,” he noted. However, the girls know soldiers and their friends know soldiers, many of whom are stationed in Iraq. “Our friend in Iraq, Captain Josh Bandy, knows plenty of soldiers that we can mail toys to,” said Erin Brown. “He is helping us,” she added.

Erin and Danielle are high school juniors who are home schooled. Their mother, Lisa, is a teacher. “We’ve been home schooled all our lives,” said Danielle. Upon graduating, the girls plan to go to college. Erin is interested in evangelical pursuits, while Danielle aspires to study medicine, specifically, pediatrics.

The girls feel that “Operation Share Bear” is off to a good start. Now they have to keep the momentum going.

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