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June 7, 1999

First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, Marshall Field's, and UPS Load 'Cargo of Comfort' for Kosovo Refugee Children

CHICAGO -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced that Marshall Field's Department Store and United Parcel Services (UPS) is joining the Office of the Governor to deliver 2,000 PJ Huggabee bears to the Kosovo refugee children temporarily living at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

"I am pleased to continue the efforts of former First Lady Brenda Edgar who spearheaded the PJ Huggabee Bear program, and I am honored to be able to bring a little bit of comfort to the children of war-torn Kosovo," Mrs. Ryan said.

The bears will be loaded onto the UPS trucks at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, June 7 at the Marshall Field's warehouse on 4000 West Diversey, Chicago.

Dubbed the 'Cargo of Comfort' mission, Mrs. Ryan will journey to Fort Dix, New Jersey, with 2,000 stuffed bears to distribute to children and families at the camp. Marshall Field's puchased the bears and UPS is shipping the boxes to New Jersey.

Mrs. Ryan is working with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus.

Spokeswoman for Marshall Field's, Laysha Ward, expressed her company's continued commitment to the PJ Huggabee program to help children in foster care. "PJ Huggabee is a program Marshall Field's pioneered years ago to send comfort to Illinois children entering into the foster care system. PJ has since spread to eight states," said Ward, Director of Community Relations.

" 'Cargo of Comfort' is the perfect name for this important mission because PJ has always been able to provide comfort to those who need it most," said Ward.

Since the inception of the program, approximately 45,000 bears have been donated into the foster care system . For every bear that is sold, the store donates one to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for a child entering the foster care system. The bears retail for $20.

"When I learned about this program and that Marshall Field's previously was involved in other outreach like sending bears to victims of the 1998 Oklahoma City federal building bombing, we worked to find a way to help the children whose faces we saw on the evening news who were torn from their homeland," Mrs. Ryan said. "PJ Huggabee is a bear that does double duty. Every time you buy one, your giving one to a needy child. And I can't think of any other children who deserve a hug more."

More than 75,000 ethnic Albanian families have been airlifted to about 30 countries from Macedonia. Reports say that a number of the refugees began being transported to Fort Dix in May after the federal government promised to relocate 20,000 people in the U.S.


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