Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Little Background

I am overwhelmingly touched to be putting my energy into a new project that, with the assistance of friends and family, we have coined “Toys for Troops."

My 21-year-old son, PFC Brian Jolley, left in March, to begin serving an 18-month tour in Iraq. Shortly after he arrived, he asked me to send him a soccer ball, at the request of the Iraqi children he’d encountered. I promised him I’d research the soccer balls, and, in the interim, send him beanie babies. I put out an APB for Beanie Babies on my blog on that day.

I had 20, in two days. 80, in a week. And since I asked, I’ve been given hundreds of beanie babies, and hundreds more have been directly shipped to him.

I’ll admit: I panicked, at first. “My son is going to think I’ve gone off the deep end,” I’ve worried, on tougher days. Our boys in Iraq are hot. They’re sweaty. They’re dirty. They’re exhausted. They are carrying out missions every day, that Mama’s don’t care to hear about. And yet, there’s Jolley’s mother, sending mountains stuffed toys. “What am I doing?”

But I got word from my son last week:

the kids love the beanies. we go through however many you guys send in about one mission’s time.

And I spoke with him again today. There cannot be too many beanie babies, folks. The children are vying for them. The soldiers are asking for them; they want a box on their trucks. In addition, the interpreter on Brian’s truck has indicated that they’re making a huge difference in the relationship between the soldiers and the villages they are working in.

After all, the kids are smiling. Their parents are smiling. Our boys are smiling.

And I am smiling.