• Pfc. Dominick Skompski (bottom left), an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, poses with Iraqi children Sept. 13 after distributing soccer balls to them in Baghdad. The soccer balls were donated by Americans through the Winning Hearts and Minds Project, created by Skompski's father, Joe D'Alessandro, president of the Cohansey Soccer Club in Upper Deerfield Township, N.J.

    Winning Hearts and Minds

    Pfc. Dominick Skompski (bottom left), an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, poses with Iraqi children Sept. 13 after distributing...

  • An Iraqi boy (center)-caught up in the excitement of the moment-shows off his handstand skills Sept. 13 after receiving a soccer ball from Pfc. Dominick Skompski, an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division United States Division - Center. The soccer balls were donated by Americans through the Winning Hearts and Minds Project, created by Skompski's father, Joe D'Alessandro, president of the Cohansey Soccer Club in Upper Deerfield Township, N.J.

    Winning Hearts and Minds

    An Iraqi boy (center)-caught up in the excitement of the moment-shows off his handstand skills Sept. 13 after receiving a soccer ball from Pfc. Dominick Skompski, an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and...

  • Pfc. Dominick Skompski (right), an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, passes out soccer balls to Iraqi children Sept. 13 in a rural area of Baghdad. The soccer balls were donated by Americans through the Winning Hearts and Minds Project, a charity created by Skompski's father, Joe D'Alessandro, president of the Cohansey Soccer Club in Upper Deerfield Township, N.J.

    Pfc. Dominick Skompski

    Pfc. Dominick Skompski (right), an armor crewman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, passes out soccer balls to Iraqi children Sept. 13 in a rural...

  • Cpl. Jonathan Holloway (left), with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, provides security Sept. 13 for Spc. Neil Weaver, also with Co. B, while he carries a bag of soccer balls to be distributed to Iraqi children in a rural area of Baghdad.

    Cpl. Jonathan Holloway

    Cpl. Jonathan Holloway (left), with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, provides security Sept. 13 for Spc. Neil Weaver, also with Co. B, while he carries...

BAGHDAD, Iraq - When Joe D'Alessandro created the Winning Hearts and Minds Project in 2008, president of the Cohansey Soccer Club, based in Upper Deerfield Township, N.J., he had no idea his son would eventually help him spread the spirit of American goodwill overseas.

Since the WHAM Project's creation, about 5,000 pounds of donated soccer equipment has been shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan to be distributed by civil affairs officers. This September D'Alessandro's son, Pfc. Dominick Skompski, with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, helped bring the project's mission to Iraqi children living in a rural area of Baghdad.

With the help of fellow Soldiers with Co. D, Skompski distributed more than 30 donated soccer balls to children living at various farms in the area.

Skompski, who's played soccer since he was a child, said it felt good to hand out soccer balls to the youths.

"(The children) don't really have a lot out here," Skompski said. "You might as well give them (at least) a soccer ball. It's not much, but it's something for them."

After receiving their soccer balls, the Iraqi children practiced their dribbling, kicking and heading skills. One boy celebrated receiving the gift by doing a 5-minute-long handstand to the applause and cheers of all assembled.

Skompski said his father's mission with the WHAM Project-to build trust and mutual respect with the Iraqi children-has been accomplished.

"He (has always been) one to help others when they're going through a rough time," Skompski said of his father. "I'm glad he's helping me."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16