We're home this evening, after 2 (and one afternoon) at the Virginia Theater. The News Gazette, played M*A*S*H here this weekend, highlighting Toys for Troops, along with one showing of Shrek the Third.
It was a rainy weekend, and a home football weekend to boot. At 10 til 7 last night, there were about 10 people in the theater, and we giggled nervously.
A bust. Ah well. Can't win 'em all. But Lo! In the next 10 minutes, in walks what seems like 1oo more people. We joined a nice crowd, for the first showing. We ended up, at the end of the evening, with supplies for our care packages:
and hundreds, yes HUNDREDS more beanie babies.
To boot, that donation bucket was filled with a couple hundred bucks.
On Saturday afternoon, at 4:30, they ran the children's film for the weekend, Shrek 3. A little over 200 people, both children and parents were present. Here's Jeff running the TFT table, acting both child and parent:
We decided, beforehand, to make the day a little nicer for the kids that showed up. Before the movie, Jeff told the kids a little about TFT, about how many beanies we had collected, and what we were doing, in Iraq.
He also announced, in the dark theater, that each child that attended the showing could pick out one beanie to take home, if they so wished. An audible gasp was heard through the theater.
After the show, it was quiet for awhile, but the children slowly came to stop by our table, and we told them our story, and asked them take one.
And today, I got a taste of how my kid feels when he hands out toys to kids. I watched 100 or so kids excitedly, but respectfully pick out a beanie baby to take home with them.
And we shook their parents hands, and we asked them to explain to their children what we are doing here. We asked them to explain, that if they are going home this happy with one toy, among the 100s they have....
...to imagine, then, how children that have little-to-nothing must feel when they go home with this same toy.
I'm not exaggerating about the little-to-nothing. I received an e-mail from one thankful soldier that told me about children he saw that were dragging a computer monitor by the cord through the streets, as a means of something to play with. They are children. They are making toys out of anything they can find.
And there are those, this evening, that went home: PISSED.
Yeah. We took some hits, tonight.
There were a few that were furious at our decision. We are supposed to be helping children in Iraq. And 15o beanies from our current inventory of 11,000, are tucked under pillows in our own community.
Can I just explain, for a minute?
First of all, there are some beanies we are cannot send. The soldiers are forbidden to hand out anything "pro U.S.A." We are holding back the red, white, and blue, stars & stripes beanies, and have a box of them that are free for the taking. We are also holding out Christmas beanies, prayer bears, angels, brides, ghosts, and skeletons. We don't want to run the risk of offending parents.
Although we gave the kids their choice, the majority of the beanies were from the box of toys we have to hold back. We will have to find alternate homes for these here anyway.
Second, the parents that showed up today were so appreciative, and in exchange for a few toys their kids took home, threw a few bucks into the donation jar. In the 20 minutes after the movie, enough was donated to send over 400 beanie babies to Iraq.
We are sending 400 beanie babies to children that 150 kids here are praying for.
I think that's an awesome return for handing out a few of our toys here at home.
Please, please, please don't be upset; our promises are still steadfast.
And oh, yeah: I just can't say thank you, enough times.
That is all.