(Locator: Turin, Iowa)
The plains of rural Iowa may be a long way from Iraq, but the heartbreak
of war found its way to Janet Wakehouse via e-mail.
Janet Wakehouse: “It just brought tears to me eyes.”
The report from her son-in-law Tylor – a Marine serving in Fallujah –
still gives her chills today.
Janet Wakehouse/Member, Turin United Methodist Church: (reading)
“Intelligence has informed us that Al Qaeda is handing out realistic toy
weapons to the children of Fallujah in hopes that a U.S. service member
might mistakenly shoot an Iraqi child.”
She and other members of her United Methodist church collected toys –
teddy bears and Barbie dolls, crayons and notebooks – to send to
soldiers so they could trade new toys for the toy guns: a way a small
church could make a big difference.
The Rev. Arley Ellingson/Pastor, Turin United Methodist: “It was
certainly something that is going to meet the needs of a lot of children
over there, and save a lot of children over there.”
Janet Wakehouse/Member, Turin United Methodist Church: “We had no idea
how many boxes we would actually have. And it ended up being
Weeks later, the same e-mail account that brought such sad news of Iraqi
children being used as bait, delivered pictures of children who’ve
remembered how to smile.
Janet Wakehouse/Member, Turin United Methodist Church: “We did it to
make the children happy, to help them to forget some of the terrible
things that happened to them in their lives.”
When word of this project spread, one man donated 1,500 soccer balls.
Cash donations for more shipments flowed in. And so did more photos of
how something as simple as a soccer ball could save lives.
The Rev. Arley Ellingson/Pastor, Turin United Methodist Church: “The
toys are keeping them safer, I believe. Keeping them out of harm’s way
in a very positive fashion. Something within you, God says to you, ‘You
need to do something about this.’ It makes me feel good that I can do
Staff Sgt. Tylor Belshe is due to be home soon from his tour of duty.
The church is now helping a nearby Boys Club in Iowa with their toy
drive for Iraqi children. To contact the church, call 712-423-1115.