|Volunteers stuff 'Bumble Bears' bound for Iraq
Source: Staff Sgt. John Queen
Volunteers stuff ‘Bumble Bears’ bound for Iraq
Fort Drum Blizzard - 18 Sep 2008
By Staff Sgt. John Queen
1st Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC Rear
Fort Drum’s Crescent Wood Community Center was buzzing with activity Sept. 11, as a small group of volunteers from 1st Brigade Combat Team Family Readiness Group turned out to stuff teddy bears headed to children in Iraq.
The bears, called “Bumble Bears,” are part of a fundraising program put together by the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company FRG co-leader, Tania Philpot, to support Operation Education.
“This should be my husband’s last deployment, and I really wanted to help out as much as I could with “Operation Education,” said Philpot, whose husband is the Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant. “I love to help (children), and I saw there was a need to complete and ship more education kits to the children in Iraq.”
To raise money for the kits, Philpot purchased 200 “stuff-n-fluff” bears. Each bear would then be sponsored for $10 each. Proceeds from the bears go to Camaraderie of Courage, a nonprofit organization that is in partnership with Operation Education.
“This is something I’m passionate about, and I want to have an impact on the people over there,” Philpot said. “It also makes me feel like I’m doing my part as a human being.”
The bears come with their bellies unstuffed. A volunteer adds a handful of stuffing material through a hole in the bear’s back. Each bear is then given a personalized “wish-star.”
“I liked stuffing the bears and putting the stars inside,” said Philpot’s 7-year-old daughter, Kaia. “My wish was to let the Iraqi kids stay safe and be protected.”
As each bear is completed, it is sealed shut and given a unique birth certificate.
“That’s why I chose to have this function today,” Philpot said. “Sept. 11 is a special day for Americans, and having these bears born today makes them that much more special.”
Meanwhile, Philpot has been seeking sponsors in the Fort Drum and Watertown communities. Her goal is to have all the bears sponsored and ready to be shipped with the remaining education kits by Oct. 1. When they are received in Iraq, they will be distributed by Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Operation Education is program started by the brigade during its first deployment to Iraq in 2005. Its purpose is to deliver much-needed school supplies to Iraqi children with the hope of making their education a little easier.
“Once our Soldiers return, we’re hoping the 3rd Brigade Combat Team will take over the mission when they deploy,” Philpot said.
To date, during both deployments, the brigade has donated nearly 2,000 education kits.