HOST MoM

HOST MoM — Tawnya Ibarra of Sunnyside holds Valor in front of the Jerry Taylor Veterans Memorial Plaza.

SUNNYSIDE — It’s just one of many places Valor the Vintage Marine Bear is visiting while staying with Tawnya Ibarra of Sunnyside.

The pair were at the Jerry Taylor Veterans Memorial Plaza last Wednesday, July 17.

Valor isn’t just any stuffed animal. She’s one of nine special ambassadors traveling the country to promote pride and love, as well as awareness in support of U.S. Marines serving on deployment, Ibarra said.

The effort was started by Denise Caliendo, who founded From Home to Our Heroes (www.facebook.com/FromHome2Heroes), a charity group dedicated to sending care packages to deployed troops.

Mothers involved with the group have sent more than 10,000 care packages to U.S. Marines around the globe in the past 2-1/2 years, Ibarra said.

“I was chosen as the second MoM (Mothers of Marines) to host Valor,” she said.

The first MoM lives in Sun City, Ariz., and Ibarra said the nine Vintage Marine Bears, created in 2002 by Boyd’s Bears, are set to pay a visit to each state within a year — to showcase the many places from which U.S. Marines hail.

Each of the bears was lovingly attired by Caliendo, displaying the patriotism they represent, Ibarra said.

While staying in her home, Valor will visit different veterans memorials in the area, as well as other points of interest like the Toppenish murals.

Ibarra will tell the story of Valor’s travels in a journal that travels with the bear, and she is tasked with photographing the bear at the sites.

“I’m hoping people might be willing to donate items I can send in care packages as part of From Home to Our Heroes,” Ibarra said.

To meet Valor, have a photo taken with her or to donate items for care packages, Ibarra can be contacted at 509-830-5298.

Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email JMcGhan@sunnysidesun.com

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