Drive initiated by local lady results in collection of 1,650 Beanie Babies

KATHERINE STODDARD is shown with Joseph Evers of FedEx Freight with the 1,650 Beanie Babies collected locally and packaged for shipment to California and then to Afghanistan as part of “Operation Gratitude.”

A Grady County woman who wanted to do something for America’s servicemen and women overseas took it upon herself to collect Beanie Babies locally as part of a nationwide effort known as “Operation Gratitude.”
Katherine Stoddard had seen advertisements for “Operation Gratitude” and became interested in the project.
“Operation Gratitude” is a nationwide effort to collect new or used Beanie Babies which are used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The military gives the dolls to children in return for information regarding the location of improvised explosive devices (IEDS).
“I am so thankful for the dedication and service of our men and women in the armed forces, and I wanted to do my part to help our military,” Stoddard said.
Over the last several weeks, she has been busy promoting the collection drive and, when she wrapped it up earlier this month, she was successful.
All told, 1,650 Beanie Babies – weighing 450 pounds – were donated by local residents and have now been shipped overseas.
“A great big thanks to all who donated these Beanie Babies for the U.S. troops in Afghanistan,” Stoddard said
She is also is grateful to The Cairo Messenger for assisting in the promotion and marketing; to Jeff Lovett for marketing the drive on WGRA and CNS Cable; to Sam Carnline of Stallings Motors and Chuck Thomas of Southern Insurance for providing drop-off points; to Carol Ratcliff of Cairo Pack & Ship for providing the shipping containers; Dustin Thomas for transporting the packages to FedEx Freight in Valdosta.
“I couldn’t believe it but FedEx Freight shipped the dolls to California to Operation Gratitude for free. Joseph Evers, who is with FedEx Freight and helped me with the shipment, happened to have served in the U.S. Air Force and he couldn’t have been more proud to handle this shipment,” Stoddard said.
Stoddard says this is just another example of how caring the people of this community are and how they come together in times of need.

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