We are happy to keep bringing you Hugs Across America news, highlight activities of our volunteers and create a fun place for our visitors, supporters and friends of our mission.
The current humanitarian mission will take the ship to seven Latin American and Caribbean nations, including Antigua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama.
Its medical capabilities seem endless: 12 spotless operating rooms for its 20 surgeons, five dental rooms, the most modern scanners and MRIs around, 5,000 units of blood, 1,000 beds and enough boats and helicopters to transport hundreds of patients a day.
The last similar mission for the ship was in 2007. The USNS Comfort is one of only two such ships under the U.S. arsenal. The other is the USNS Mercy, based in San Diego.
Also aboard the ship Saturday were 500 teddy bears. No one was quite sure where they were going, but everyone seemed to know where they came from.
A group of girls from the sorority house Phi Sigma Sigma at Florida International University brought them ship side, packed in boxes. Phi Sigma Sigma is a Chapter of Hugs Across America, a not for profit organization that provides teddies for children in crisis.
The bears were all donated, said FIU senior Catherine Vallin, 21.
''We love to give back,'' she added.
PORT-au-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Haiti's prime minister arrived aboard hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) April 11 to thank the crew for coming to Haiti to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance.
Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis and her staff were shown Comfort's state-of-the-art equipment and asked questions of the ship's medical staff. Pierre-Louis also met with fellow Haitians awaiting treatment, and had the opportunity to give Hugs Across America teddies to children awaiting care.
Comfort is in Haiti as part of a four- month humanitarian and civic assistance mission to Latin America and the Caribbean region in support of Continuing Promise 2009.
It is said by Haitian officials that, "There is so much uncontrolled violence associated with gang activity in this part of the country. We provide medical care for up to twelve people a day coming in with gashes, cuts, burns, and machete wounds. The resources we are receiving will sustain our medical supply for over a year to enable care for people after Continuing Promise '09 departs Haiti. Now the Citi Soleil community will understand clearly that Americans are willing to help," said Fritzner. "Everyone is talking about CP09 here. Seeing people in uniform used to be something they feared and now they realize that they are here to help."
Both the American Red Cross of Fargo and the Salvation Army requested teddy bears (over 150) for the families displaced by flood waters from the Red River. We were told that thousands of shivering, tired residents got out while they could and others prayed that miles of sandbagged levees would hold Friday as the surging Red River threatened to unleash the biggest flood North Dakota's largest city has ever seen.
The agonizing decision to stay or go came as the final hours ticked down before an expected crest Saturday evening, when the ice-laden river could climb as high as 43 feet, nearly 3 feet higher than the record set 112 years ago.
Snow compounded the problem according to Cathleen Howe of the Red Cross Disaster Relief Team. The river could continue to rise and those in shelters would not be permitted back in their homes. These are difficult times particularly for children.
United Valley Red Cross
It means so much to us to have teddy bears on hand for children when disasters strike. We had a fire in Mexico, ME last night and I went to visit with the clients at their hotel today and was able to give a bear to their 2 year old son. He was so happy and hugged and kissed it numerous times. Thanks again, so much.
This is the little fella that was so delighted to receive his teddy just after losing his home to fire.
Being at church while a gunman walks in and shoots your minister during the service, is difficult for adults to deal with, but for children it is shattering. 204 little angel teddy bears are on the way to comfort these youngsters when they return to church on Sunday, March 15th.
Rev. Fred Winters sermon about "Being Happy in Difficult Times" is prophetic...but hard to apply. If we can help, we must. Our prayers are with all the parishioners and family. The shooting occured at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., a St. Louis suburb.
We would like to thank First and Main, Inc. for their speedy response and thoughtful assistance.