January 26, 2010
by Molly Blake
Jessica Santucci carefully loaded 280 Beanie Babies into the back of her mother’s car. The Millennium Beanie, Christmas Beanie, Birthday Beanie and others. Jessica and her mother, Susan, then headed over to the Marine Corps Barracks at 8th Street and I where they were met by Bonnie Amos, the wife of General James Amos, the Assistant Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
Mrs. Amos serves as the advisor to the Marine Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Washington D.C. (MOSC). She received word in November from General Larry Nicholson, Commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan, that his Marines would appreciate a few more Beanie Babies.
According to Gen. Nicholson, the Marines can tote the stuffed animals in their utilities and hand them out, while on foot patrol, to Afghan children.
Mrs. Amos delivered the message to the MOSC board and, along with the Marine Aviation Officers’ Spouses Club (MAOSC), members netted 85,000 of the tiny toys through viral email campaigns, school and church drives. Amos is not surprised by the club’s success. Both retired and active duty families, she says, have carried our nation and our service members through the last nine years of conflict.
“The spouses are very much the backbone of our Corps,” said Amos. “They are creative leaders and I am continually amazed at their ingenuity and energy.” The Santucci family is a typical example.
Santucci collected the toys for more than a decade. She amassed nearly 300 but over the last few years the toys wound up in basement storage bins. Her grandmother, whose husband John Wright served 21 years in the Corps, read about the collection in the MOSC newsletter and asked Jessica if she would consider donating them to the Marines. Jessica jumped at the chance.
“I remembered playing with all of them,” said Santucci. “But at the same time I was happy that some other children were going to make really nice memories with them like I did.”
Last month, Mrs. Amos sent a photo to Jessica. It showed General Amos handing out a small purple Beanie Baby to a crowd of Afghan children.
“You hear about it on the news but seeing that photo – it was real and very raw,” said the 16-year old Maryland high school student.
Amos was so impressed with the teen that she invited her to a parade at the Oldest Post in the Corps.
“My father got to do a lot of things in the Corps,” said Susan Santucci. “But he never got a personal invitation to 8th and I.”