Friday, November 5, 2004
Supplying love to Iraqi
SACRIFICE: Chapman Hills Elementary student
volunteers, from left: Kiersten Knust-Graichen,
Megan Van Ligten and Kara Lindsey, all 11, cuddle
a donated teddy bear. |
MINDY SCHAUER, THE ORANGE COUNTY
Donations of school supplies and other items
for Iraqi children will be taken through Nov. 20.
To contribute, call Silva Mirzoian's nonprofit
Passions & Dreams at (310) 273-1019 or e-mail
Chapman Elementary pupils
donate pencils, toys and lots more.
The Orange County Register
ORANGE Megan Cox found it easy to part with eight of her
precious Beanie Babies, a sweater, a toy clock and a
"I want the Iraqi kids to have some of the supplies because
we're at war right now," said Megan, 7. And she added, softly:
"Kids are losing families."
Words like this bring tears to Silva Mirzoian's eyes,
expressions of caring that she hopes Iraqi children in her
homeland will appreciate when they handle stuffed animals,
books, backpacks, shoes and clothes sent to them by their
To that end, Megan's schoolmates at Chapman Hills
Elementary in Orange on Tuesday loaded up a van with school
supplies and other items they collected in the past two weeks.
The items were taken for storage to a Los Angeles warehouse
and to Mirzoian's Beverly Hills nonprofit, Passions &
The goods will become part of an expected container load -
20,000 to 25,000 pounds - to be delivered to needy Iraqi
children halfway around the world close to Thanksgiving.
Mirzoian, an Iraqi-Armenian Christian, heard from her aunts
and cousins in Baghdad about children in dire need of school
supplies, stories that mothers of children at Chapman Hills
Elementary also have read and seen on television.
Three to five Iraqi schoolchildren share one pencil. Kids
walk barefoot to school, on the days that they go at all. And
toys, well, for the most part, there aren't any to play with.
"Unfortunately, Iraqi children temporarily don't have
supplies," Mirzoian told a Chapman assembly on Tuesday,
fighting back tears. "It's so beautiful for them to receive
supplies all the way from America."
Last year, Mirzoian tried to get school supplies to
children in Baghdad, but her drive failed to gain traction.
This year has proved easier because of all the attention being
paid to Iraq.
Chapman is the only Orange County school to participate so
far. Mirzoian connected with a school mom, Nada Hajjar, who
approached the principal and the PTA. Donations also are
coming from a high school in La Crescenta, business
organizations and individuals.
Friends and strangers, many of them American mothers, have
come to the rescue.
"All mothers care about children, and knowing what all
these children in Iraq are going through, their lives are in
shambles and they're losing parents," said Megan's mother,
Mary Cox. "It's nice for all of us to think that our
contributions might make a difference for a few kids over in
A stuffed brown teddy bear with a red bow. A mini pink
suitcase on wheels. Notebooks, folders and crayons.
To this pile of items collected by Chapman pupils,
sixth-grader Joey Ramirez added two books Tuesday - "Boxcar
Children" book stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
"We have CD players, we have MP3s, we have a bunch of
electronic things and these guys are happy for, like, little
cars and stuff and it's the least we can do," said Joey, 11.
"I mean, they're just not as fortunate as we are. We got so
many things and they got so little."
He and other classmates helped load the items into the van.
And the curious bunch peppered Mirzoian with questions.
"Will this be going to Baghdad?" "How are you going to get
it to Iraq?" "Do they get to choose what they get?"
Items will be distributed through Life for Relief &
Development, a nonprofit that offers humanitarian services
globally. The goods are expected to arrive close to
Thanksgiving and shortly after Eid al-Fitr, the holiday
marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when
children traditionally receive gifts.
Mirzoian views sending supplies as a gesture of American
good will that won't go unnoticed by Iraqis.
"For me, it's a way of trying to end terrorism; it's
spreading love instead of fear," Mirzoian said. "It shows that
we care. This will sort of curb the hatred towards foreigners
and Americans. You get them with kindness, not guns."
A recent documentary, filmed by Iraqis, shows children
walking barefoot and without toys. One youth in the film asks
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to send weights so he can build
"No matter where you are politically," said Kris Adams,
whose daughter Emma, 7, brought shoes, books, crayons,
pencils, a journal and toys for the Chapman drive, "I can't
imagine how devastating it must be for moms and kids."