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Observer Aug. 26, 2004

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Army Reserve Lt. Mark Myers of Van Buren is in Iraq and he wants a package from home. Not for him, though. He says he’s been sent plenty of nice care packages already. What he wants, or to be more specific, what Operation Caring Hands wants, are donations of school supplies for elementary school kids. His own words, sent via e-mail: “Our unit has adopted a local Iraqi school pre-K through 6th grade and we are trying to get them some school supplies. I know that some of you are thinking, ‘there are kids here at home who need this stuff.’ “Let me just say that there is nothing that can bridge the divide of two cultures better than individuals of one culture reaching out to the other one. I hope that by helping these kids they will feel empowered by our democratic ideals of equality under the law, justice for all, and compassion. If that is the case, then maybe one of them will grow up to lead a free Iraq in friendship with the West. “A dream, I dare say not a fantastic one. If that happens, then my deployment will have been worth it in my opinion.” Needed: Backpacks, spiral notebooks, notebook paper, pencils, pens, colored pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, glue, construction paper, stencils, scissors, erasers — the same stuff your elementary school kid needs. Send to: Operation Caring Hands c/o LT Mark Myers C Co, 980th En CBT BN (HVY) APO AE 09378 There’s something else for the kids you can send Myers. You know all those Beanie Babies you’ve bagged and dragged to the attic — those stuffed unicorns and zebras and pigs and bears you feel so guilty about because you bought so damn many of them for just one child, just one little American child? Our guys in Iraq are giving them to kids in the street, children who could use something soft in their very hard lives. Peace offerings. The Observer alone could supply every child in Baghdad. With her friends, the whole of central Iraq, all the way to Najaf. And if every mother in Arkansas shipped her stash of forgotten Beanie Babies — well friends, they may think it's a movement. And that’s what it is. The Beanie Baby anti-misery movement. The Observer is a coward, and does not go to movies like “The Village” or anything having to do with monsters covered in phlegm. But we are advised by someone who saw M. Night Shyamalan’s film and apparently took it as documentary that berries in the forbidden color of red are growing abundantly along the trails at Pinnacle Mountain. If it were not for trail markings in yellow — a protective color, we are given to understand — all hell might soon break loose at the West Little Rock park. “Yet another reason not to veer from the marked path,” our advisor says, “for they wait in the woods ...” The Observer had her bag snatched at a local nightclub last weekend while she was (very) merrily enjoying a local pop quartet. We figured we’d never see it again, so it was a happy surprise when two days later the club manager called to say the bag had been returned by .a homeless man familiar to club-goers. He’d found the bag in the parking lot. This unsheltered gentleman has made various amorous declarations to The Observer over the years, and always responded to her gentle rejections with “Peace and Love!” Love aside, he returned the bag apparently hoping for a reward. He was given 10 bucks by a kind-hearted manager and another 10 by The Observer. We figured the man had a Little-Debbie-snack-cake-and-Colt-45 party with the cash, and that’s fine. The money was for his honesty and enterprise, not his improvement. Peace and Love, brother. There are studs, and there are spuds, and the latter have had lots of opportunity to watch the former this week at the Olympics. The Observer, tuned into the gymnastics events, watched with horror as one of the women on the uneven bars lost her timing, missed the bar and fell to the mat. Not 10 minutes later, The Observer’s cat emerged from hiding under the TV table and attempted a leap to the top of furniture nearby. She, too, could find no purchase, and fell to the floor. Such ignominy! We had to give her an 8.

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