Drives: Press: Suburban - Toy drive

Posted on Friday, November 19 @ 10:28:11 MST by admin2

Suburban Newspaper 11/18/04
Christmas toys being collected for children in Iraq, Afghanistan
SAYREVILLE ? In a time of war, they look toward peace.

Toy drive under way by Bridges of Peace
Christmas toys being collected for children in Iraq, Afghanistan
Staff Writer

Julia Eleftheriades, Kristy Bebert, John Eleftheriades and Wayne Bebert helped with the toy drive for children in Iraq by making posters.

SAYREVILLE ? In a time of war, they look toward peace.

Bridges of Peace, a nonprofit organization based in Parlin, is dedicated to raising awareness for peace and love through music and the arts, and to helping children whose lives have been affected by war and poverty.

Through Nov. 24, the organization is collecting lightweight, small stuffed toys not larger than 10 inches that U.S. soldiers will give to Iraqi children. Collection boxes are located at all eight of the local district?s schools ? Sayreville War Memorial High School, Sayreville Middle School, Upper Elementary School, Arleth, Eisenhower, Truman, Wilson and Selover schools.

?We feel it would not only give the children a chance to clean out their closets, but it would also give them a chance to make a difference in another child?s life halfway around the world,? said Diane Eleftheriades, president of Bridges of Peace.

The collection boxes were donated by Wal-Mart.

Once all the toys have been collected, Bridges of Peace plans to ship them out to Sgt. 1st Class Robert Wolfe in Iraq, Maj. Robert Kronig in Iraq and Tammy Carroll of the Field Hospital in Iraq and Afghanistan, who will then distribute them to the children.

Monetary donations also will be accepted to help cover shipping costs.

The response to the idea from a few soldiers contacted in Iraq has been positive, Eleftheriades said.

Col. Chet Wernicki, director of the National Iraqi Assistance Center, sent a note to Bridges of Peace thanking the organizers and stating his hope that the gifts could be delivered by Christmas.

?Amazingly enough, the Iraqi children are looking forward to celebrating Christmas right along with the American soldiers and civilians on the ground here,? he wrote.

Although the students at the eight district schools are the primary ones being asked to donate, Eleftheriades said the Upper Elementary School informed her that anyone who wishes to make a contribution of a stuffed animal can stop by the main office of the Ernston Road school to do so.

Bridges of Peace was founded by Eleftheriades, who is a member of the Upper Elementary School PTO. The group?s vice president is Karen Bebert, who serves as president of the school?s PTO.

Bebert noted that the Bridges of Peace project should not be seen as a promotion of the war, but more as a push for peace.

?This is a response to the request from our soldiers,? she said. ?We are simply trying to help ease the tensions between our soldiers who are stationed there and the Iraqi people who live there.?

The group was able to contact the soldiers through Bridges of Peace board member Elaine French, who lives in Brick and had previously sent supplies to soldiers through her church. Kronig is also originally from Brick, and he reached out to Wernicki at the assistance center.

The Bridges of Peace organization will hold a meet-and-greet reception Dec. 3 at Buddies Banquet Hall on Johnson?s Lane in Parlin, where the total amount of donations received will be announced. Volunteers and board members will be on hand, as well as food and music. The reception is open to the public.

In addition to the toy drive, Bridges of Peace, which is now a year old, also plans to hold a ?Peace on Earth Concert? Sept. 24, 2005, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City to celebrate the International Day of Peace, which is Sept. 21.

?We are starting to build those bridges, and this is a great example of making that happen,? Wernicki said in his note to the organization.

For more information or to make a contribution, call Bridges of Peace at (732) 721-6428 or visit the Web site

Link to article in the Suburban News Paper...

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