Soldiers donate items to post workers
By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Soldiers from the 111th Signal Battalion, a National Guard unit from Abbeville, S.C., donated assorted items to local nationals working for the Department of Public Works on Nov. 10.
"It all started because we had DPW guard duty with these [local nationals] and we just kind of formed a bond with them because we see them each and every day. We created a friendship with them and we felt like we wanted to help this group," said Sgt. Robert Cadden, 111th Sig. Bn.
Effort and planning to distribute 400 pairs of shoes and assorted items extended from Iraq to the United States.
"[It took] a couple of weeks to get [the items] in, close to a month from the time we contacted groups back home and asked them to accumulate things and then send them over," Cadden said.
It only took 20 minutes to pass out the many items.
"We donated shoes, miscellaneous clothing items, school supplies and some small candy and food items," Cadden said. "We had a good response from everybody. They were excited and enthusiastic about receiving [the items]."
Local nationals were not informed of the unit's intent to distribute clothing beforehand.
"We didn't want to let [the workers] know in advance," Cadden said. "There was quite a bit of confusion and pandemonium just with them knowing once they got on site."
Despite the confusion, and a red alert going off in the middle of the donation, everyone had an opportunity to walk away happy with something, Cadden said. He also said that there are plans for the future to bring in more supplies to donate.
"We'll try to keep getting stuff sent [out here] and we'll pass it out," Spc. Jason Springs, 111th Sig. Bn., said. "We'll do that till we leave and hopefully, by the time we leave, everybody will get enough stuff to take care of their [families]." Plans are already in the works for another donation.
"We have another 200 pairs of shoes on the way. They'll be here in the next week or two," Cadden said.
The Soldiers were ecstatic to have the opportunity to help out their fellow man and accomplish the common goal of putting smiles on the faces of the DPW employees. Their efforts brought together a stronger sense of camaraderie within the unit, Springs said.
The items were donated from several churches, family support groups and local businesses near Abbeville.
Many units on post are assisting local nationals by donating supplies, building schools and medical facilities through established programs such as Operation Anaconda Neighborhood and Operation Iraqi Children, but the 111th Sig. Bn. went one step further and took it upon themselves to assist local nationals they knew were helping to rebuild their own community.
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Local nationals employed here by the Department of Public Works pick up shoes and assorted clothing items donated by friends and family members of Sgt. Robert Cadden, 111th Signal Battalion. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Abel Trevino)