Helping Iraqi Children 'Bear' With War

Jessica Nelson
Jessica Nelson
Jan Fox
Jan Fox
C.J. Nelson
C.J. Nelson

By Mari-Ela David

AIEA (KHNL) -- Some local comfort for children caught in the crossfire of the war - there's a group of high schoolers on Oahu that's sending an impressive amount of teddy bears to injured kids in Iraq.

The group has so many bears, there's enough to fill half a bedroom, from the floor to the ceiling. Monday evening, members were in Aiea boxing them up. They say they hope to improve relations with the people of the Middle East, and show them that they care.

If laughter is the best medicine, then the smiles teddy bears can bring out may just be the perfect antidote for Iraqi children wounded in the war.

"It's been a huge success, bigger than I expected," said Jessica Nelson, a member of the Zeta Delta Chapter of Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School Honor Society.

The 20-member honor society of junior and senior high home schooled students has been collecting these stuffed creatures since March.

"I saw a special about an army trauma hospital and in the background, they were interviewing the commander, but in the background I saw a medic hand a teddy bear to a wounded child and I just thought, that would be perfect, we can collect teddy bears," said co-sponsor, Jan Fox.

Members thought they'd get about 400 bears. Instead, more than 1,000 poured in. For some of the high schoolers, the overwhelming amount of generosity hits home.

"My dad is in Iraq and we actually get to send some bears to him and so it's our way of helping him through this project," said C.J. Nelson, a student.

The furry creatures may not patch all wounds, but the hope is to stuff boxes with enough comfort.

"To get to where we can show them that they're loved and we want to help them," said Nelson.

And ease the trauma war-torn children suffer, in hopes of making their pain a little more bearable. The group is now trying to raise money to pay for shipping, which is expected to cost at least $1200.

They also collected more than 800 books, which will go to Kaiser Permanente's Reach Out and Read Program serving Hawaii kids.