2006-03-03 / Front Page

Bubbles of love

By Amanda Taylor

Bubbles of love

Afghani children smile and play as they await gift packages from US soldiers.

There are 1,194 bottles of bubbles at Killian Elementary School, and they aren't for the students.

The bubbles, collected by students in Lynnae Lyons' resource classes at Killian Elementary, are for children in the war-torn Kabul region of Afghanistan.

What is now being called "The Bubble Drive" got started with a group of US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. This group, which includes SFC Michael T. Salter of Columbia, visits orphanages in Afghanistan in their time off, spending time with the children and delivering gifts and needed items.

Seing the immense communication barrier between themselves and the children, one soldier in the group commented it would be nice if they had bubbles to blow since that is something most children are able to enjoy. Michael (Mike) later mentioned this to his wife, Stefanie, who came up with the idea for the bubble drive.

Lyons, a friend of the Salters, heard about the idea from Stefanie and put the plan into action with the generosity and hard work of her students.

Photo courtesy of Killian ElementarySome of the champions of the bubble drive: back row (l-r) Courtney Gaither, Brandon Yelverton, Montel Dash, Alexis Samuel, and Malcolm Gates, front row (l-r) Mrs. Lynnae Lyons, Katelyn Wood, Audarius Wall, and Max Morales.

"The kids have just been amazing," Lyons said of her 17 students (grades 2 - 5) who collected the bubbles. She added, "They just took this thing and ran with it."

Lyons' students collected the bubbles throughout the month of February and have now finished the drive. They are almost ready to ship the bubbles but are waiting to obtain the funding to do so. Lyons said they are contacting businesses and organizations for help with the project.

Bubbles are a particularly good thing to send to the children, Stefanie said, because bubbles are not age or gender specific. Also, children can play with bubbles anywhere, unlike gifts like balls, which may encourage the children to play in unsafe areas. "You have to think about their safety," Stefanie said.

In the time that Mike has been in Afghanistan, Stefanie and their children, David, 11, and Ryan, 6, have sent many items such as shoes, clothes, and toys to the children Mike visits. Stefanie said, "[Mike] would let us know what they were short of, and then the children and I would go shopping." She added, "It helped [my] children because they could do something with their dad even though he's over there."

Mike feels compelled to help the children he visits because of the terrible conditions they live under, Stefanie said. According to Stefanie, Mike said to her, "'Children are the same no matter where they are. They may be a little bit dirtier, but they're the same.'"

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