Our “One Small Candle” project began in 1994. (It was named after the proverb that says “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the dark.) That first year we distributed about 200 stuffed animals. Each year with the help of many friends the project has grown and during the last 15 years we have found new homes for over 30,000 stuffed animals. Those 30,000 animals have been spread from Arizona to Afghanistan.
There are so many hungry, homeless people in the world, I’ve been asked why we concentrate on the distribution of toys. We hope to accomplish two things. First, we don’t personally hand those animals to the people who need them. We give them to organizations who actually give them to their new owner. When the recipient receives that animal and smiles and says “thank you” we hope those who give out the animals will bask in the glow of that smile and do other things to receive other smiles of appreciation. And second. When people in difficult circumstances (the lonely, the homeless) receive stuffed animals we hope they will understand it came from someone who cared about them and gave them the bear as a symbol of that love.
Stuffed Animals Stories
We’ve got a lot of stories about stuffed animals and their uses, but this is the one that’s most often on my mind today.
This story came off the internet. In a particularly dangerous area, an American convoy was kicking up dust and they hurried through the streets of a small town. As they sped around a curve the leader spotted a small, dark haired girl standing in the street. As they came closer, she clutched the bear she held tighter, but she didn’t move. With much cursing and mumbling the first vehicles managed to maneuver around the girl. One soldier thought “that poor kid, she’s so scared she can’t move – I have to get her out of the road”. He pulled out of line and walked through the dust to where the girl stood. That’s when he discovered the girl had been given the bear by a soldier just a few days earlier. She was in the road because she was afraid “her” soldier might be hurt. She was standing in front of a land mine.
Like I said - off the internet. Don’t know if the story was ever true, but – but, if there’s any chance that our stuffed animals can buy a moment of good will for our soldiers in harms way…. When Tammie from the American Legion or Julianne from “A Soldier’s Wish List” call, we’re happy we can make one small contribution to help their cause.