A simple children’s toy could change history.

This week while speaking with a Gold Star Mother, she told me she and some friends were preparing to send Christmas packages to our troops overseas.  It caught my interest.  A friend back east sends tens of thousands of cookies overseas every year for Christmas.  The packages often include toiletries and shaving gear.  Wipes are especially appreciated.

This is very much like what Anna Workman and friends in Idaho do for the troops.

Then Anna told me she couldn’t park her car in her garage because the space is filled with cases of Beanie Babies.  Why, you might ask? 

The actions of the little boy may have saved countless lives.

She shared a story and it nearly brought me to tears.  A convoy of U.S. troops was making its way along a rutted Afghan road.  Suddenly a little boy raced into their path.  The convoy stopped with some trepidation.  It could’ve been a prelude to an attack.

Instead, the child explained there was an improvised explosive device ahead.  The warning allowed our men and women to move ahead with caution.  The actions of the little boy may have saved countless lives.

He was carrying a Beanie Baby in a pocket.  It had been given to him by a kind American.  Our troops have constructed soccer fields and given soccer balls to children.  Greatly appreciated but these are communal gifts.  A toy, on the other hand, is personal and individual.  Children in many parts of the world never have special possessions and toys can be luxuries.  Beanie babies are small enough, a child can easily grip one and secure it among clothing or belongings.  This is no minor gift in a land where being a child doesn’t guarantee safety and happy moments are in short supply.

A day will come when our troops will leave many corners of the world.  One child with a happy memory may someday lead a nation.  This is diplomacy and an act of love combined.