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Marines Deliver Smiles, Beanie Babies to Afghan Children

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Beanie Babies.

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Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division Public Affairs
Story by Cpl. Zachary Nola
Date: 12.27.2009
Posted: 12.27.2009 04:09

They are small, cuddly, and eye-catching. They touch the heart, put smiles on the faces of children and are now serving as ambassadors of goodwill in Now Zad, Afghanistan.

After a tremendous effort by members of the Aviation Officers' Spouses' Club and the Officers' Spouses' Club in Washington, which raised 48,000 Beanie Babies, Afghan girls and boys received the gifts at the district center school house in Now Zad, Afghanistan Dec. 24.

During his visit, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, passed the donated babies out to surprised, but jubilated Afghan children during his tour of the school.

The small furry gesture provides Marines and Afghan national security forces with an opportunity to connect with the Now Zad's younger generation and show the Now Zad community their intentions are honorable. Beanie Babies were also distributed in the Nawa district, home to the Marines of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

In a Dec. 23 Marine Corps News article, Bonnie Amos, spouse of Gen. Amos and an adviser for the Marine Officers' Spouses' Club of Washington, shared her vision for the Beanie Babies in the volatile Helmand province.

"If they are touched by the kindness of Marines, this can be a relationship-builder between the Marines and tribal leaders," said Amos. "Although it sounds a little [far-fetched], stranger things have happened through an act of kindness."

Amos said she believes a child might remember that this Marine was kind to her, and her family in turn might want to advise Marines of enemy activity.

"I'm a dreamer, but I like to think that we are possibly saving Marines' lives," Amos said.

More than 15,000 Beanie Babies have been delivered to units in Afghanistan, so Marines and Sailors can hand deliver the playthings to children in their areas of operation.

Among those who contributed to the Beanie Baby cause were the Ty Corporation, the makers of the Beanie Baby, the students and faculty of Chesterbrooke Elementary School in McLean, Va., Boy and Girl Scout troops, churches, schools and even a Florida women's motorcycle club.

If the response to the Beanie Babies is positive a similar collection may soon follow.