Schoolbags help with community relations

By Sgt. Ann Venturato

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Almost three dozen backpacks filled with school supplies were delivered to Al Bu Hassan village children during a visit from the 310th Military Intelligence Battalion Sept. 11. The backpacks were packed with items for both young children and teenagers. The younger children received backpacks with such items as coloring books and colored pencils; while the older children received calculators and mirrors.

The donations for the school supplies came from people in the United States, said Lt. Col. Marie Stagg, 310th MI Battalion commander.

"With the school year starting, people want to help out," Stagg said.

Through stateside generosity school supplies keep coming in as more people hear about the project. The Soldiers here took the supplies that were donated and created the individual backpacks that were handed out.

"The backpacks themselves took over two months to prepare," Stagg said.

The preparation paid off as one by one the kids lined up eagerly to receive their backpacks while adults stood by and watched. The supplies were handed out at the village sheik's house and his son was the first to receive a backpack.

After all the backpacks were handed out, Soldiers from the 310th MI Battalion also passed out candy and Magic Bubble blowing liquid to the children.

Overall, it was another successful mission for the Soldiers who frequently go out and visit different villages in Iraq to help with the force protection here.

"Our mission is to gather information," Stagg said. "We provide a voice to people who wouldn't normally have a voice."

Events like this help solidify relationships between the Iraqis and Coalition Forces, said Stagg, because the positive interaction between the Iraqis and us keeps the lines of communication open and continues to build a trusting relationship.

Soldiers from the 310th MI Battalion will continue to build a long lasting relationship with the Iraqis as they go about delivering more backpacks to children and meeting with local members from the surrounding communities.

Editor's Note: Sgt. Venturato is a member of the 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office at LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq.


news photo
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - An Iraqi child from Al bu Hassan accepts a backpack filled with school supplies from Lt. Col. Marie Stagg, 310th Military Intelligence Battalion commander as interpreter Eva Sarkees looks on Sep. 11.

news photo
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - An Iraqi child from Al Bu Hassan, a village near here, sits on the lap of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marie Stagg, 310th Military Intelligence Battalion Commander, during the unit's mision to distribute school supplies and backpacks to the local children Sep. 11.