Mitzvot from the heart: Hannah Freeman

Hannah Freeman chose Beanies for Baghdad, collecting stuffed animals and other items for children in Iraq and other war-torn countries for her bat mitzvah project.

Hannah Freeman, Congregation B’nai Amoona

After considering a variety of projects, Hannah decided to support an organization that made her realize how fortunate she is to live in the United States.  Daughter of Leslie and Gary Freeman of Chesterfield, she chose Beanies for Baghdad, an organization her mother had collected for in the past. Hannah said she appreciated the opportunity to promote peace in other countries with other kids.


Soldiers ask for Beanie Babies, stuffed animals and other items to give to the children that they encounter on a daily basis in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries. The goal of Beanies for Baghdad is to use these items on the humanitarian missions they go on and it helps bring joy to both the soldier and children and creates good will. These small acts of kindness help the soldiers to go into hostile neighborhoods to hand the children a Beanie Baby, or some other toy, and they soon turn a bad situation into one of friendship and better cooperation from the adults.

Hannah started her collection about a year before her bat mitzvah. She put a box in her father’s work office and in the lobby of her elementary school where her former teachers were very generous.  She also made a presentation to her Girl Scout troop requesting donations. Posting on Facebook was another opportunity for Hannah to share her project. Here she asked for soccer balls as they are very hard to come by in Afghanistan and the boys really like playing soccer.

Hundreds of items were collected and after her bat mitzvah, Hannah started shipping packed boxes to Afghanistan. A student at Crestview Middle School, she was very excited by her service project. She said she couldn’t believe how many items she was able to collect and how generous people had been. Her mother commented that she loved the project too because it gave people an opportunity to clean out their homes of things no longer needed and find a new home for them, keeping more things out of landfills.

The Afghanistan liaison who received the boxes sent Hannah notes and pictures of her collected items with their new owners. When she saw one of the pictures she said, “Mom, this is so cool! I remember that stuffed animal from our living room when we were sorting and packing boxes.”

Unfortunately, Beanies for Baghdad is no longer in business. If you are interested in sending items to the kids in Afghanistan, contact Hannah’s mother, Leslie Freeman, at leslie.[email protected], and indicate “mitzvah” in the subject line.