Story and Photos By Christina Mascarenas/American Red Cross
Video by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross
The children of military families serve too. They endure the hardship and loneliness that comes with frequent moves and deployments. When one of the parents deploys, especially to a combat zone, the stress is hard to cope with. Because the holidays are particularly difficult for the family American
Girl donated hundreds of American Girl dolls to the American Red Cross with the goal of making the holidays brighter for children in military families. Two daughters of combat veterans were presented with American Girl dolls at Desert Sage Elementary school in Pueblo West, CO.
|Amber (L) and Zivah get ready to uwrap|
at Desert Sage Elem. School.
Second graders, Amanda John, 8 and Zivah Thomas, 8 were each presented with an American Girl doll in support of them as a military child and to make their Christmas brighter. The American Girl dolls are a small token to show appreciation for their sacrifice the children make for our nation when their parent is deployed.
According their website, www.americangirl.com, “American Girl is supporting the Red Cross and their Service to the Armed Forces mission, which helps members of the military, veterans, and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service.”
The Red Cross contacted Julie Kuhlman, the Dean of Students at Desert Sage Elementary School in Pueblo West, CO., who chose Amanda and Zivah to receive the dolls. She reached out to the John and Thomas families to ask if they would be interested participating in the donation. “I know these girls and their families and wanted them to have a brighter holiday,” Kuhlman said. “What a wonderful moment to share.”
Stephanie Thomas, Zivah’s mother said, “The Dean of students called us and at first I thought Zivah was in trouble, then I realized something special was going on. I kept it a surprise for a while because I had to let it sink in first for me that she had been picked for something special like this.”
|Amanda (L) and Zivah are all smiles as they open the gifts|
at Desert Sage Elem. School
On Wednesday in the elementary school’s library, with a holiday theme backdrop including a Christmas tree, handmaid fireplace and library books, Amanda and Zivah tore the wrapping paper of their gifts. “The doll is really, really, really great,” Amanda said, while Zivah said “I think it’s awesome because I have never gotten one.” The girls smiled and hugged their dolls and posed for pictures under the Christmas tree.
Amanda’s father, Sargent Daniel John, an Engineer in the United State Army and is stationed at Ft. Carson said, “I thought it was awesome” when he received the call from Kuhlman asking if his family wanted to participate in the American Girl doll presentation. John has been deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq three times and fully expects to leave again when his unit deploys this spring. “This is amazing for our daughter and our family, she always wanted an American [Girl] doll, we’ve just never been able to get her an actual American [Girl] Doll. Thank you so much for everything you guys [Red Cross] do,” John said.
Zivah said her “daddy is on the other side of the world in [South] Korea.” She and her mother have been able to Skype with him through his deployments. Sargent First Class, Christopher Thomas is from Canon City. This is his third deployment but the first deployment that Zivah remembers. She is counting the days until her father comes home. Zivah said when her daddy comes home from Korea she is “going to charge at him and give him a big huge hug.”
American Girls for American Girls
Thomas said of her daughter, “Someone like Zivah is very strong for being without her dad and it isn’t easy. We, as adults often forget that and for her to receive something in recognition for that it’s very special and we thank the Red Cross for thinking of military families for thinking of us, we thank you so much.”
“This is pretty wonderful.” Thomas said, “Zivah’s never had an American Girl doll before so it’s really amazing that we now have this special story to tell of how she got it and why she got it. This is a memory, we will never forget.”