SITCHER, Iraq --
Children shudder at the thought when that time to see the doctor comes around. But children in the Anbar province area received something special to help them cope with their visit to the doctor.
Marines and sailors with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, handed out more than 1,000 teddy bears to children during a two day cooperative medical engagement, May 23-24.
The bears were donated to the battalion to hand out to Iraqi children by the Oahu Chapter of the Zeta Delta Society in Hawaii.
“The purpose of the collection was to have the children of Oahu give something to the children of Iraq,” said Navy Lt. Robert Nelson, battalion chaplain, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “It was a from kids to kids type of operation, and it was great to see that that many people from Hawaii care.
The organization began gathering all the bears as early as September last year to ensure that they would be able to send the bears over to the battalion during their deployment.
During a six-month period, the society was able to gather approximately 1,000 stuffed animals to have the battalion hand out to children. With so many bears to send overseas to Iraq, the organization would have to gather enough money to ship the toys, but one local citizen donated approximately $1,200 to cover the shipping charges.
“Everyone cares about kids no matter where they are at or where they’re from,” Nelson said. “We decided to pass them out during the cooperative medical engagement because seeing the doctor for any kid is scary, it doesn’t matter who you are. The kids were scared when they saw the doctors, but once they got done seeing them and came outside and saw us handing them a teddy bear, then it wasn’t that bad. Hopefully this made up for any shots that they got.”
For Nelson, passing out the bears wasn’t just a way for him to connect to the children of Iraq, but also with his own kids back in Hawaii.
“My kids are part of the Zeta Delta Society,” he said. “So it was neat for me to participate in a project that my kids are in miles and miles away. This was a great way for everyone to give something to the children to make their day that much better.”
Since arriving in al-Anbar Province in February, the Marines of 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, have conducted two cooperative medical engagements to help the local population receive medical care for free. Each day, approximately 300 people arrived to be looked at by doctors. This is just one of the many things that the battalion is doing to help out the people in their area of operations.