CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq, (Army News Service, Dec. 30, 2010) - Laughter echoed amidst table games and crafts as children from an Iraqi orphanage in Tikrit attended a special day for Soldiers and orphans hosted by U.S. Division-North here Dec. 17.

Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 220th Transportation Company, 394th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, from Freemont, Neb., also handed out shoes donated by "Let Them Walk in Our Shoes" to the Iraqi children.

The charitable organization, from Palmerton, Pa., and surrounding communities collected approximately 6,300 pairs of shoes, donating and shipping 3,500 pairs to the 4th Infantry Division to be distributed to local Iraqi communities during their deployment in support of Operation New Dawn.

Sgt. Glenn Shannon said he coordinated with Iraqi civilians who run the orphanage to hold the children's day event at Speicher's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center-North, where the children enjoyed pizza, made crafts and played games donated by the Families of 394th CSSB Soldiers.

"We wanted the kids to have the things they needed, and we wanted to see them smile," he said, adding that he's looking forward to another children's day during warmer weather when the youngsters can play outside..

Soldiers greeted the 28 children with cheers as they entered the MWR center then joined in with the kids playing board games, ping pong, air hockey and doing a little coloring with crayons.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Hollanbach handed out boots and shoes to the orphans who traded, mixed and matched footwear with one another.

"You could just see their faces light up at the sight of the shoes," said Hollanbach, who helped the children try on their new shoes. "The look on their faces makes it all worth it."

Staff Sgt. Travis Hill spent time passing a soccer ball back and forth with the children wearing their new shoes.

"It's good to see them smile," said Hill. "It's not every day that we can help the kids in Iraq."

The children also took home hats, balloons and other toys and party favors provided by the Families of the 394th CSSB Soldiers.

Sgt. Jeremy Stover said he saw a side of his Soldiers not often seen during the day-to- day routine of a deployment.

"This really helped the morale of the Soldiers as well as those of the children," said Stover, who helped plan the event.

(Sgt. Coltin Heller serves with the 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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