Operation Share Bear a big success with Iraqi kids
On Feb. 16, Erin and Danielle Brown, two home-schooled high school juniors, sent a letter to the editor of the Jamestown Press. The letter asked readers to donate stuffed animals that the girls would send to U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq to give to the local children who had few or no toys.
Within three days of publishing the letter, over 150 stuffed toys of every color and dimension arrived on the Brown's doorstep. In less than six weeks, the girls have received and sent 1,085 toys to Iraq as well as suckers and other candy. They have also received checks and cash to help with shipping expenses.
Until recently, the girls have shipped everything to Captain Josh Bandy, whose address is listed below. They met him at their church before he was shipped to Iraq. After arriving, he wrote a letter to Erin and Danielle telling them about the plight of the children in the war-torn country, and the idea of Operation Share Bear was born.
After sending the first thousand toys to Captain Bandy, the girls feared that he might be overwhelmed. However, Bandy said to keep them coming because there were plenty of good homes for them. The girls were overjoyed with the success of the operation and added Specialist Erick Stafford, another soldier in Iraq, to their small staff. They now send toys to Captain Bandy and Specialist Stafford.
Erin and Danielle are ready to take the next step to expand the program. They are looking for volunteers to start their own toy drives in other areas of the country. They believe this could be one of the most successful diplomatic gestures since the beginning of the war, to let the citizens of Iraq know that the American people care.
They also recruited Mary Schroeder, another friend from their church who attends South Kingstown High School. Mary presented the idea to Robert McCarthy, the school principal, who thought "the idea was very exciting." He is working on the logistics and thinks they can have a toy drive running within a month.
Erin and Danielle encourage anyone who knows a soldier in Iraq to tell him about Operation Care Bear and ask if he would like to be involved. The more toys sent to more soldiers to give to Iraqi children will strengthen the impact of the program.
If readers don't know a soldier, toys can be sent to Captain Bandy and Specialist Stafford at the following addresses:
+ Captain Josh Bandy B Company 1st Battalion 17th IN Regt. APO, AE 09319 + Specialist Erick Stafford 562nd Eng Co 2nd Plt FOB Marez
APO, AE 09319
Toys can still be dropped off at the Jamestown Press office. Contributors can also call 560-0285, and someone will come to pick the toys up. Donations to help with shipping expenses are appreciated.
The girls send their "compliments to the dear people of Jamestown. Way to go Jamestown, what a town with a heart you have proven to be!"