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Children Reach Out to Local Soldier Through “Doodles for Doug”
Written by Kelly Chandler Staff Writer

Children work on signs and pictures expressing their support for Needs during an after-school program at Upper Perkiomen Child Care Center in Red Hill last week.  Needs was a student at the center more than a decade ago. 

        "Doodles for Doug," a project started at the Upper Perkiomen Child Care Center to draw pictures for a local soldier deployed to Afghanistan, is also reaching and encouraging oodles of other soldiers.

        Sandy Young, director of the child care center in Red Hill, said the idea for the service program came about in January after talking to Annette Needs, US Army Spc. Douglas Needs' mom.

        Needs, a Red Hill resident and Upper Perkiomen grad, was deployed in October to Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad.  He is on his second enlistment and has earned an Army Combat Action Badge during his service.  He currently works as a cavalry scout with the 19 Delta unit.

        "We wanted to do something to keep his morale up and we decided to start having the children of the school age program draw pictures for him," she said.  'Doodles for Doug' grew from there.'"

        Spc. Needs is a former longtime student of the child care center, where staff remembered him as a friendly kid who loved to play soccer.  Young said each week the students draw pictures or cards for him, which are then shipped overseas and eventually shared with other soldiers in his unit. 

        The center also started collecting non-GMO protein and granola bars for Needs and his buddies, after hearing they had requested them.  Staff and students observe RED (remember everyone deployed) days on Fridays where they wear red.

        "It's so nice to see the children respond in such a caring way through their pictures and letters for Doug," Young said.  "It's a great feeling to see the eagerness in the children wanting to give back…For both of us, we love the idea of helping and giving back to a former student in such a simple way."

        Last Tuesday children huddled over a table of art supplies inside the center creating pictures, many with colorful camouflage, for Needs.  Two pictures of Needs, one with his night vision gear on, adorn a wall at the center with the "Doodles for Doug" moniker.  

        One creation, drawn by 9-year-old Caitlyn Barger, showed a man on a raft in the water being approached by a shark.  An angel was hovering in the sky.

        "It's an angel helping the guy so he can return home," Barger said.

        "We're doing this because we care about him and we want to support him," said her brother, Jimmy Barger, matter-of-factly.

        Kathryn Needs, Doug's sister, who comes in periodically to the center to answer questions about her brother and help with the drawings, said he appreciates the artwork.

        "I'm really happy they're doing this because I know he goes through rough times over there.  My favorite thing is hearing him laugh and I know some of these pictures make him do that," she said.

        Jaden Ray, a first-grader in the program, started a picture showing a man standing on top of a sphere.  It said "Doug I am so excited that you are standing up for our country."

        "Wear Red on Fridays to Support Our Troops," read another sign being made by Phoenix Kornegay, 11.  "Even if people forget he knows they're still thinking about him," she said while filling in the big, bold letters.  

        "I think it's awesome that the daycare center where Doug attended many years ago is now supporting him while he is deployed," noted Annette Needs.

        "It's such an honor to know Doug and the man he has become," Young explained.  "We are so proud of him and for the service that he is doing to protect our country."





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