Thursday, June 28, 2007

I recently wrote that I could tell you a story a day for a year, based solely on my encounters from the few weeks since this project was officially "launched." So, why don't I?

Ok, I will.

Let's touch back on that Beanie-counting contest then, shall we?

The thing that surprised us most was how many people had no interest in playing. Hey! Free $100, who couldn't use that?! Gobs of people, that's who. No matter, we sure had fun with those that played along.

It was fun to watch the scientific guessing "systems."

Some, adults and children alike, stood for several minutes, counting, and multiplying the area x the square root of pi.

Many accused us of stacking the pile with pillows or boxes, thus throwing off their guess. Nope. Solid beanies.

Some guessed their birthday.

Guesses ran the gamut from 84 to ...

...355 billion.

The contest contributed to a lot of fun at the festival, enabled us to shake a lot of hands, hand out a few business cards, and promote our cause. I've heard from several that day, that stopped by the table (and am still trying to catch up on the e-mail!)

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Dean's Blueprints of Champaign, Il, was kind enough to help us out at the booth this weekend, by donating their graphic-covered scion, and $100 prize money to the person that could come closest to guessing how many beanies babies we fit in the back of it. Several of you are checking in to see how close you came in your guess. There were 632 beanies stacked there. 9-year old Gabby Anderson was the closest, with a guess of 637. Congrats to Gabby, and a giant heartwarming thanks to Dean's; it made our booth a big hit this weekend!

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.