I was touched to read a story in our local paper about 16 year old Katherine (Katie) Ward, who has started a drive to collect teddy bears to send to children hospitalized in Balad, Iraq. Her mother was working at the United Service Organizations (USO) lounge at Dulles Airport and learned that there are many children at the hospital in Balad whose lives have been disrupted by war. She says some are orphaned, some are sick, and some are injured; many of them have never had a teddy bear. Katie’s effort is to send the children, between the ages of 5 and 9, “something physical to hold while they are in the hospital.”
Katie is a sophomore at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, which has been supportive of the project, dubbed “Bears for Balad“. Teachers and students alike there have donated bears to the cause. Katie comes from a military family, with her father and brother serving in the Air Force. The donated bears will be shipped in the next few weeks to Linda Robinson at the USO in Balad, who will help get them distributed. In addition to the bears, the children will also receive letters of support written by second graders at Legacy and Dominion Trail Elementary Schools. Katie has been paying for the shipping herself, so donations for shipping would be just as appreciated as the donation of bears.
Katie is working to set up “Bears for Balad” as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and will soon have a P.O. Box set up for monetary donations to the cause. Until that time, you can send monetary donations, checks payable to “Bears for Balad” to:
“Bears for Balad” c/o Katie Ward
22454 Pine Ridge Ct.
Ashburn, VA 20148
If you want to donate a bear, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to find out where to drop off the donation. Actually, if you are in the Leesburg, Virginia, area, feel free to leave donations at the front desk at my Weichert office, and I will deliver the bears to Katie to be sent. I think this is an incredible project. Katie, you have my support!