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Corydon women collect toys for children of Iraq

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the People to People Sports Ambassadors in 1956, he knew that children could be keys to global understanding. He started a program that sends youth from around the world to other countries to participate in tournaments and to learn cultural similarities and differences from each other.
Eisenhower saw that by providing sports ambassadors to other countries we could gain better understanding of one another and work toward world peace one person at a time, one child at a time.
Melanie Clay of Corydon also saw a need, and she’s working to help the children of Iraq trust the peacekeeping soldiers in their country. After reading several magazine articles about the needs of the children of Iraq, she knew she wanted to do something to help them.
‘I read an article, in which soldiers were trying to help families, but they closed their doors because of fear. The soldiers were unable to convince them they were trying to help, not hurt. A soldier was attempting to communicate with one family when he bent down and gave a small child a piece of gum. The father of this child was so taken by the compassion the soldier had for his daughter that he ran through the streets telling everyone that the soldiers were there to help them.’
She realized that to comfort the children, the soldiers needed to first gain their trust.
The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other organizations collect donations for the Iraqi people, but Clay has come up with an idea specifically for the children of Iraq from the children of our community.
Clay and Mary Kentch of Corydon Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are collecting small toys that will fit into the pockets of peacekeeping soldiers to give to the Iraqi children as a token of peace, in an effort to gain the trust of Iraqi children.
They are also collecting cards, postcards, letters and pictures of local children for the soldiers to share with the Iraqi children.
‘The cards and pictures may help the Iraqi children understand how much children in America would like to help bring peace to the Iraqi children and their country,’ Clay said.
Local children may not understand how they can help the world gain intercultural understanding on a global scale. However, Clay said, ‘They will know that they are helping another child across the world who is just a kid, just like them. They may be different in culture, but nonetheless, they are still a kid.’
Collections began as a small project by Clay, Kentch and a youth group at their church, but, now, the effort has grown beyond that. Donations from the community are being accepted at Corydon Christian Church at 216 Mulberry St. in Corydon. A collection box is available Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, or you may call 738-3939 to make arrangements with the church for drop off.
The toys or games should be small enough to fit into soldiers’ pockets. Pictures of your children, letters or postcards will accompany the toys. The donations will be gathered through the month of June and sent to peacekeeping soldiers in Iraq.
President Eisenhower said, ‘If people come together, so will the nations.’ The children of our community can fulfill this challenge by reaching out to the children of Iraq, in an effort of reaching global understanding and achieving world peace, one person at a time, one child at a time.