Soldiers to help provide school supplies in southern Iraq
May 6, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - It is not often Soldiers receive a special delivery of packages from celebrities in Iraq.
Sgt. Brian C. Lawson, assistant convoy and scout truck commander with Alpha Company, 56th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 167th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion here, received just that April 13.
Actor Stephen A. Baldwin and television host Leeann Tweeden surprised Lawson after returning from a mission to a local Iraqi school.
Baldwin delivered letters addressed to Lawson and his fellow Soldiers from Grapevine Elementary School in Grapevine, Texas. Also included in the delivery were many boxes of school supplies and letters from a third grade class for Iraqi school children.
Baldwin had more good news: Lawson's unit and the 287th Sustainment Brigade will receive 3,200 school supply kits on behalf of Operation Iraqi Children, a grass-roots program created by actor Gary Sinise and Laura Hillenbrand in 2004, to distribute to local Iraqi schools in southern Iraq.
Lawson, a Fort Worth, Texas native, contributes to the welfare of Iraqi school children by providing basic school necessities.
He began his humanitarian efforts in 2004 when his unit, Alpha Company, Task Force 91st Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, adopted a local Iraqi elementary school in northwestern Baghdad - helping to rebuild the school after it was bombed.
As part of the effort, he partnered with his mother - Barbara Lawson, a Grapevine Elementary School special education school teacher and former American Airlines employee - to mail 30 boxes of school supplies for the Iraqi elementary school students.
Today, Lawson continues his service with the 167th CSSB civil military operation by conducting missions to help Iraqi citizens rebuild their civil infrastructure and educational system through humanitarian assistance.
"Once I started doing CMO missions, that's when I got really excited," Lawson said. "I've tried to get on every one (missions) I possibly can. That's (delivering supplies) the thing that I enjoy most out of any of the missions we've done in Iraq - I mean, seeing the impact on the kids whenever we give them a notebook. A simple notebook makes their day."
Lawson described that the schools he visits lack the facilities of those seen in the states.
"A lot of these schools, like the one I visited yesterday, are (made of) clay and mud huts. They have no electricity, no water and no restrooms. The children and schools have little to no supplies," he said.
Unable to provide new buildings and electricity, Lawson knew of one way to help the kids - with school supplies.
OIC was able to provide 3,200 school supply kits of the 9,000 that OIC had earmarked for Iraq. The trip also included a Morale Welfare and Recreation celebrity stop in Baghdad.
Lawson looks forward to handing out the supplies and reading Grapevine Elementary students' letters to Iraqi children.
"I think a major importance in reestablishing Iraqi society and government is to secure their future. Their children are their future. If children can't be educated, then there is no future for Iraq," said Lawson. "I'm happy I was able to do my little part to help secure a future for these children."