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Troop Support Opportunity for Children in War Zones: Beanies for BaghdadBy Vicki McClure Davidson
You know you've got them lurking about the house or garage in boxes... adorable, plush, bean-filled orphans with bright red cardboard hearts attached to their ears or arms. At one time, Beanie Babies were the Number 1 toy sold in America to rabid collectors and kids with a bit of allowance money, but now, the toy is just another item of clutter barely worth its original retail price of $5.99. Does anyone remember when a purple Princess Bear Beanie, made by the Ty company to honor Princess Diana following her death, was selling hot and heavy in the secondary market for up to $300? It wasn't unusual for adults (even those without kids) to have hundreds of them displayed in their homes. Some were even kept in pricey display containers to keep them dust-free. Price catalogs listed the earlier Beanies at insane prices, many exceeding the $500 it cost for me to buy my first car—a used, slightly dinged, blue 1967 Chevy Impala.
But, after 1999, the craze ran its course (actually, as I recall, the demand primarily crashed because of a misfired, misguided campaign about possibly discontinuing them in the new millennium). Almost overnight, Beanies were no longer the "It Toy." Your kids outgrew them, and you may have, too. But there are still a bunch of cuddly-soft Beanies hanging around the house, because you aren't sure what to do with them.
Beanie Babies still have the capacity to give a lot of comfort to the world's children. They may be out of vogue in the United States, but they are still greatly loved and cherished by thousands of children in the war zones.
One million toys have been distributed by Beanies for Baghdad since the May 2003 inception of the charity. The contact people stationed in the war zone see to it that the children of Baghdad and surrounding areas receive the donated Beanie Babies through the coordinated efforts of the organization. Beanies for Baghdad is a registered non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the 501 (c) (3) laws.
|Troops distributing Beanie Babies in Diwaniyah, Iraq | Photo credit: Beanies for Baghdad website|
|Beanie Baby Distribution: PFC McKinney and a local child posing outside Camp Echo in Iraq | Photo credit: Beanies for Baghdad website|
|Beanie Baby Distribution: Q-West Base Complex in Iraq | Photo credit: Beanies for Baghdad website||Marine from 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, gives stuffed animals to children on their way home from school in Rutbah, Iraq | Photo credit: Beanies for Baghdad website|
And, it doesn't have to be just donated Beanie Babies. The organization also needs donations of small cars, other small stuffed animals, school supplies, backpacks, clothing, sporting equipment and balls of all shapes and sizes (soccer is popular), Frisbees, you name it. Children the world over tend to like the same toys. However, many of these children have NOTHING, so any toy is a huge deal to them. For this charitable effort, it must be emphasized that you should NOT send any religious materials and do not send Angel Bears and similar religion-oriented toys. All donations are tax-deductible, and you don't need to spend a dime on the toys since you already have them or know someone who does. All you need to do is pay for the postage to send, which isn't as much as you would think—postage to a military base in Iraq or any other country is priced as though it were being delivered to a location in the United States, which APOs and FPOs technically are. We will have a page about this soon, but in the meantime, you can check out the prices on the US Post Office website.
In my dealings with soldiers and Marines through AnySoldier.com, I've personally sent more than 200 Beanie Babies to specific troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who wanted them because they have contact with the local people and can give them to the children or to wounded locals in the hospitals. Many soldiers, however, do not have such contact, so you can't just box them up and send them willy-nilly to the theater. The Beanies for Baghdad website, however, has perfected and streamlined the process, taking the brunt of getting the information about to whom to send the toys in Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and other areas. Believe me, this is a valuable service, since personnel in the war zones change frequently. It's difficult and time-consuming keeping up with who is where and who has been sent home.
This is a service project that is perfect for children to participate in, whether it be your own children or grandchildren, a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, a church group, a homeschooling group, or other youth organization. Senior centers are also getting involved. Information is provided on the Beanies for Baghdad site about ways to organize your own Beanie Drive in your community and is updated frequently.
No kidding! A really good excuse to get rid of those things (don't buy new ones, collect them from your house and ask your friends)!! Send some in every package to ALL units as they are really easy for the Marines to carry with them and give to the local kids who love them. These are better then small plastic toys which will break easily and are not as easy to carry in a pack. There is NO more effective ambassador for our country than a Marine helping the local folks. This is done far more often then the press shows, and quite probably the most important thing a Marine will ever do.
De-clutter your home by sending your unwanted Beanies to our troops to give to the kids there. Check out the Beanies for Baghdad website and read the information on what you need to do to brighten not only the lives of the children, but of the lives of our deployed troops. They love giving them out, as it takes their minds off the war for a little while, seeing the smiling and appreciative faces of the kids. In the midst of all the economical and political turmoil we're going through here at home in the US, doing something wonderful and charitable like this for children halfway around the world will also brighten your day.
And that's pretty cool.
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