Seventh-graders, Soldiers reach out to Iraqi orphans
May 19, 2009
TIKRIT, Iraq - Sustainment Soldiers traveled to a nearby orphanage here with boxes of school supplies donated by Longs Peak Middle School students, Longmont, Colo., for Iraqi school children April 18.
The partnership between Soldiers from the 391st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and seventh-graders at Longs Peak Middle School began seven months ago through e-mails, phone calls, written letters and two video teleconferences between the students and Soldiers.
During the video teleconferences students had the opportunity to talk with several Soldiers from the 391st CSSB - some of whom were even from their home state of Colorado - and got to hear about Soldiers' experiences in Iraq and what being deployed is really like. They asked about everything from the weapons carried and types of missions conducted to camel spiders, dust storms and day-to-day life.
After the first video teleconference during Veteran's Day 2008, the students focused on children and victims of war, initiating what they refer to as "Project Kindness." Their objective has been raising funds and collecting toys, bedding and clothing for the orphanage.
Shortly before the second video teleconference in April, Soldiers at the 391st CSSB received several boxes full of everything the students had collected for the orphanage.
Spc. Andrew McDonald and Spc. Ray Duck coordinated with other Coalition units and Iraqi officials to bring the donated items to the orphanage. They were met at the front gates of the orphanage by the men and women managing the facility, as well as the Director of the Tikrit Children's Organization, Fatin Lateif, a woman on the city council.
"This was far and away the most rewarding experience I have had while deployed," Duck said. "To see the way those children's faces lit up when they saw the toys and clothes we brought. It reminded me that we really are over here to help the Iraqis. You can lose sight of all the good we are doing in this country by reading the news. This mission reaffirmed that there are good things happening over here, too."
After a few minutes of playing with the boys, Soldiers made their way back to the trucks for the trip back to base.
McDonald said, "However, sometimes you get the chance to do something like this for people you don't even know. I know the news just shows all the bad things that happen here and all the things Soldiers do wrong, but after this mission it made me proud to call myself a U.S. Soldier."