Post units deliver hope to Iraqi children

By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
Staff writer

Operation Iraqi Children is a program that enables Americans to send school supplies to Iraqi children.

The 13th Corps Support Command Civil Affairs personnel and the various units that support the projects act as middlemen, packaging and delivering the school supplies. The school supply kits include blunt end scissors, rulers, pencils and pencil sharpeners, erasers, colored pencils (crayons melt in the heat), paper, folders and zippered pencil bags. The students and school administrators accept these supplies gratefully, often hugging and kissing the American Soldiers.

"It's a good deal for Iraq's people. They're satisfied. You can see it in their faces," said Master Sgt. Johnnie L. Davis of 172nd Corps Support Group.

"We don't want the vision of hope, the vision of democracy snatched from the grips of these great people. [These efforts] will provide that next generation with a sense of hope and lessen the gap in this country between the haves and the havenots," said Col. Joseph Hightower, 13th COSCOM chief of staff.

Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Carson of 29th Signal Battalion was moved to contribute as much as he could when his convoy approached LSA Anaconda for the first time amidst a throng of shoeless Iraqi children waving and smiling at him.

He has stacks of boxes filled with shoes, school supplies, T-shirts, toys and other knick-knacks for the Iraqi children all donated by American individuals and organizations through OIC.

"There are buildings and brand new opportunities going up. We're bringing in school supplies and all the other things we take them to build up their hopes for a better tomorrow," Carson said.

Actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump" and Laura Hillenbrand, author of "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," started the program.

OIC, in cooperation with Heart to Heart International, People to People International, Sister Cities International and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, collects, inventories and ships school supply kits to the theater of operations, according to the OIC Web site at www.operationiraqichildren.org.

 

Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Carson
Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Carson of the 29th Signal Battalion poses with a group of Iraqi children at their school in Bakar Village.

Three Iraqi school girls
Three Iraqi school girls pose for the American Soldiers' cameras. These girls were shy and standoff-ish when the Soldiers first entered their classroom, but as they warmed up they couldn't get enough of the cameras, Carson said.