09/30/04 — 2,000 teddy bears going to Iraq

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2,000 teddy bears going to Iraq

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on September 30, 2004 2:03 PM

A familiar item will soon bring smiles to the faces of Iraqi children.

Members of the North Carolina Army National Guard's 230th Support Battalion Family Readiness Group in Goldsboro began preparing Wednesday to send over 2,000 teddy bears to Iraq. They hope to send them all by the end of the week, according to Shirley Grice with the readiness group.

The teddy bears will be distributed to schools, hospitals, charities and other groups in Iraq by the 30th Brigade Combat Team.

"It is really good to be able to give them a toy to hold on to," said Ms. Grice.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina collected the bears during its state convention in Greensboro in September. Employees of all the state organizations, including Cherry Hospital and O'Berry Center in Goldsboro, collected the teddy bears, which were donated during the convention for this purpose, she said.

Ms. Grice's husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Stillman Grice, is a member of the 230th and deployed to Iraq earlier this year with around 5,000 soldiers of the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Heavy Separate Brigade.

The 230th Support Battalion is part of the brigade and two of its units, the Charlie Medical Company and the Headquarters Company, are based in Goldsboro. More than 250 soldiers combined from these two units have deployed.

It is the largest call-up of N.C. National Guard soldiers since World War II and the brigade was the first full National Guard combat brigade activated and deployed for service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Members of the 230th readiness group and the State Employees Association of N.C. gathered the teddy bears at the armory on U.S. 117 S. Bypass in Goldsboro.

The readiness group is in place to support the soldiers of the 230th when they are deployed and help their families at home, said Ms. Grice.

She said the United States military is doing a lot of good in Iraq, and distributing the teddy bears to Iraqi children and organizations is just another example. She hopes the teddy bears will also help the soldiers' morale.

The readiness group is still accepting monetary donations to help support activities for families of deployed soldiers and to help with shipping of items like the teddy bears.