(Duluth, Minn.) - “It's hard to describe what it's like being loved by an arbitrary American thousands of miles away that you've never met.”
When she read those word written by U.S. Army soldier Seth Dibble, Mary Linda Sather, author of the children’s book, “Boo Boo Bear’s Mission The True Story of a Teddy Bear’s Adventures in Iraq,” was brought to tears. “This is an example of how good things come around... fills my heart,” said Sather.
In late 2011 while serving in Afghanistan, Dibble had received a package containing a letter and a teddy bear from a child in New Jersey he had never met. The child who sent the package was a second grader at Distinctions in Urban Education (D.U.E.) Season Charter School in Camden, N.J.
The effort was part of a project started by their teacher, Debbie Otis, called “Teddy Bears to for Troops,” and was inspired by Sather’s book, “Boo Boo Bear’s Mission The True Story of a Teddy Bear’s Adventures in Iraq.”
Otis had discovered the book at a Barnes & Noble bookstore while visiting friends in North Carolina and when she returned home to New Jersey, she set the wheels in motion. Her friend Casey Rodgers, whose husband was an Army Chinook pilot, provided the funding for supplies. Other friends actually made the bears, and by the time they arrived, Otis had secured a grant from an organization called Soldiers’ Angels to cover the cost of mailing.
The bears and letters written by her students to thank soldiers for their service were sent to U.S. military bases around the world in late 2011. When Dibble received his package, he was close to the end of his deployment to Afghanistan.
Now home, he recently wrote to the teacher, her students, and the author to thank them for their efforts. He concluded the letter by saying, “Life there was hard and easy depending on the situation and you made it much easier to think of home. I have no idea who you are but I thank you from the bottom of me for taking the time to think of us. God bless you and your future efforts, whatever they may be.”
“Boo Boo Bear’s Mission The True Story of A Teddy Bear’s Adventures in Iraq” is the story of how the author’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Shea Leigh, stayed connected to her Dad, SMSgt. Ron Waterhouse, while on his second of three deployments to Iraq. She sent her beloved teddy bear to him in a care package on a mission to carry their family’s love until they could be together again. The bear got to go on all kinds of adventures when he was in Iraq, even up in an F-16.
The book is now in its 3rd printing and was recently picked up as a resource that will be used by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon groups throughout Minnesota.
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