“Toys From The Heart” Campaign

These are photos of some Iraqi children receiving some of the thousands of toys that Bob and Pat Rudolph of Steilacoom have sent in their “Toys From The Heart” Campaign.  They have a batch ready to go to Afghanistan that they will send in the next week or so.  These photos are from around the Mosul area.


News Tribune article in “Your Voice”

Steilacoom Family never rests in support of our troops

By Karen Irwin

Driving around town I have noticed in front of a few local businesses and some neighborhood trees yellow ribbons still cling. Seeing these yellow ribbons I am reminded of our country’s fevered pitch last spring when we argued so passionately for or against a preemptive war in Iraq.

Half a year later, that war has been declared over and most of the people who stood on our overpasses and street corners demonstrating have long gone home, and they took their signs with them. Only the yellow ribbons remain, adorning mostly homes, where, my guess is, a family waits for a loved one’s return.  While these yellow ribbons may have faded and a national fervor died down, I think I speak for most Americans when I say we still hold our troops, over 130,000 of them now in Iraq, close to our hearts. We still cheer when they come home and we mourn each and every time they are wounded or killed.

But for Pat and Bob Rudolph, a retired couple living in Steilacoom, that just isn’t enough. They want to do something more for the troops, something that will impact the day-to-day lives of these soldiers.  They know from experience the hardships a military life can demand. Bob retired from the military in 1980. They also know what it is like for a young mother, whose husband is deployed, to run a household, hold down a job, care for her young children and volunteer with spousal support. The Rudolph’s son in law, Scott MacDonald a Lt. With the 101st airborne, has been deployed to Iraq since February 2003, leaving their daughter Michele with an awfully heavy load.

The Rudolphs get to hear firsthand how hard it is for a soldier to be away from home and to go so long without rest, a good meal and the arms of loved ones. They receive emails from Scott each chance he gets. Perhaps worst of all, they are familiar with the sadness of two young girls who miss their daddy so badly they have started counting the hours until they see him again. Their granddaughters, Spencer and Samantha, tell them that every time they speak on the phone.

So, I guess you could say the Rudolph’s take the dangers of post war Iraq and the welfare of our troops personally.  When the couple found out through their son in law Scott that troops over in Iraq really appreciated baby wipes, toilet paper and many other essentials they sent them in large quantities and encouraged others to do the same.  When they found out that soldiers who were convalescing from combat injuries had to pay eight dollars a day to eat hospital food they called their representatives and protested. (It has since been changed.)

In addition to the time and money it takes to send these packages the Rudolph’s also give blood and participate in weekly vigils. Now the Rudolph’s have found another way to help. It began with a care package sent to their son in law Scott. It was around Easter time and they wanted to make Scott and his fellow soldiers smile. They sent Pez dispensers, candy and a funny toothbrush. But instead of sharing those goodies with fellow soldiers, Scott started giving them out to the  Iraqi children. Probably it was hard to tell who it made happier, the soldier being able to give the toy or the child getting one.  Operation "Toys From The Heart" was born.   Since then the Rudolph’s have been collecting and sending happy meal toys, soft and gently used toys to Iraq. Toys that fit into a soldiers pocket work best.

The soldiers response has been so positive the Rudolph’s have started enlisting the help of boy scouts, girl scouts, elementary classrooms and generous individual donors.  One of these generous donors is a three-year-old boy named Grant Thomas, who is ready and willing to share his own things.  Children like to help other children and they do, after all, make the best diplomats.  Stories coming out of Iraq prove that American soldiers need the help and trust of Iraq’s citizens.

This latest enterprise of the Rudolphs is a step, however small, towards the goodwill it will take if America is going to help rebuild Iraq. Like Pat Rudolph says, “If you love my children I will love you.”  This parental feeling is universal.  Unfortunately goodwill is scarce in Iraq. As the numbers of casualties continue to grow in post war Iraq our soldiers and their families need to know, now more than ever, that they are present in our thoughts. The war may have been declared officially over but their sacrifice is not.  We can show we care in a multitude of ways. Any one of the Rudolph’s efforts would be a start.

We can keep our politicians accountable. We can hang a yellow ribbon, send a care pkg. or give a toy we know will be exchanged from one very big hand to one that is very small. In fact, if Operation Toys from the Heart is something you can do donations are now being accepted at United Church in University Place. The Rudolph’s tell me that each and every one of these things is greatly appreciated by the men and women who are serving our country so far away from home. I am told, unlike our scattered attention, a soldier's gratitude does not easily fade.

And while those 130,000 soldiers in Iraq may never know it, The Rudolph’s in Steilacoom, have their back.

                                    Karen Irwin lives in University place


92614, APO AE 09323-2614


APVG-UZC-CH (165-1)

9 December 2004


 SUBJECT: Letter of Appreciation


I. Mr. Rudolph on behalf of my commander and the rest of my battalion I would like to thank you very much for the packages you have sent. We are the 1-27 Infantry Battalion (Wolfhounds) working in the northern most portion of the Sunni Triangle. Most of the people we deal with are Arabs who have very little despite the richness of the land from grain and oil.


2. Mr. Rudolph, I wish you could see how quickly a frightened child can turn in to a joyful and happy one when handed a small toy, pencil or stuffed animal. I would like to assure you that this little gift has gone a along way in creating a bond between the Iraqi people and us.


3. We the Wolfhounds are here trying very hard to close the gap of misunderstanding between the two nations and clarify all the lies Saddam published the last 35 years.


4. Once again thank you very much for all that you are doing to help us make this region a better place. Please spread the word. We can use toys, stuff animals, school supplies and any children's clothes used or new. Mr. Rudolph it is people like you that make us proud to be Americans not just American in Citizenship but American in Spirit.

5. You can send the packages straight to us, here is our mailing address: 


Abdullah A. Hulwe

HHC 1-27 INF Battalion 2nd BCT

APO, AE 09347-9998

Email: abdullah.a.hulwe@us.armv.mil


Abdullah A. Hulwe Chaplain (CPT) US Army Battalion Chaplain

brudolph@sprynet.com Bob & Pat Rudolph

[Ed:Bob is a member of VFP109 in Olympia WA. You are encouraged to contact Bob and Pat with your donations of toys and money]