Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Kabul: Operation Goody Bag

While I was at the service window in the mail room one day, I noticed a box of gift bags.  They had been sent to the Embassy by the nice people at Operation Goody Bag – a non-profit organization started by a middle-school teacher from Paramus, New Jersey, on September 12, 2001, in response to the terror acts the day before.  The mission of Operation Goody Bag is to thank and honor active-duty military members, veterans, and first responders, both at home and abroad, by sending them goody bags.  The goody bags themselves are lunch bags that have been decorated by various organizations (schools, scout troops, companies, etc.) and filled with candy and a note.

As I was looking at the box full of goody bags, the Postmistress took note.

“Take as many as you want,” she told me.  “We’ve got loads.”

I took enough bags for everyone in my office, and in a few minutes, I passed them out.

My colleagues opened their bags with what I’d call a fake enthusiasm, but it soon became something more genuine.

“Anyone want to trade for some Nerds?” someone shouted.

This led to a frenzied moment of swapping.  In addition to the Nerds, there were Tootsie Pops, Laffy Taffy, Dubble Bubble, Jolly Ranchers, and Smarties jumping between the cubicles.

The candy had a magical effect in my office, and no one was too-cool-for-school anymore.  I guess the people at Operation Goody Bag were onto something after all.

The note in my bag thanking me for my service was from a thirty-something MTV executive, who I easily located and thanked using LinkedIn.  The artwork on the bag, however, was much more freeform.  Either the MTV exec had tapped into her inner five-year-old or else the bag had been decorated by someone else.  I suspect the latter.

In addition to the candy and the note, there was a word-find activity.  The target words included fireman, soldier, army, ambulance, and other military and first-responder terms.  I wondered if the organizers, sponsors, and bag artists realized their shipment of goody bags was destined for an Embassy.  While my diplomatic colleagues and I do work in a warzone, our engagement and exposure are obviously very different than that of our military colleagues in most regards.  At the end of the day, though, whether or not little Timmy’s bag ended up where he thought it would, it ultimately served its purpose: It put smiles on the faces of people making sacrifices for their country.


Unknown said...

Being retired Foreign Service and retired Army, I think that set of bags ended up where they were really meant to be. I am so glad they brought a little joy to ya'll's day!!

Eleanor White said...

Very sweet. And I bet the person you found in LinkedIn was thrilled to hear from you --Kind of like a person in England responding to a note in a bottle thrown into the Atlantic Ocean in Boston! Love, Eleanor White

Mary Ann said...

Thanks for sharing an inspiring story. Small acts like goody bags can make a big difference.

Unknown said...

Great story! I don't like kandies but I am glad you have them. Chris, why don't you write about "Chris hanger treatment"? I do not think most people know it. It will be a great story!