FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Army News Service, April 18, 2008) Aca,!" Soldiers delivered backpacks filled with school supplies, soccer balls and notebooks April 14 to the al-Raqhaa School for primary and secondary students, and the Abu Shear School for primary students.

A convoy rolled up to a small school in the Monsouri area of Iraq, just outside FOB Kalsu, and at first glance the school looks abandoned. Then small faces started appearing and heads leaned out windows.

Moments later, Soldiers with Headquarters and HQs. Battery, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, joined by memebers of the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Kalamazoo, Mich., are surrounded by helpful faculty and eager students, waiting to see what has been brought.

Aca,!A"A lot of the missions weAca,!a,,cre doing right now are school improvements and this mission helps the kids get the materials they need in order to get an education,Aca,!A? said Cpl. Markbradley Vincze.

Spc. Christopher Ryder said they try to put a smile on the kidsAca,!a,,c faces.

Aca,!A"It makes me feel like I am actually making a difference,Aca,!A? Ryder said. Aca,!A"It shows the kids that weAca,!a,,cre good people.Aca,!A?

Over time the goal is to get a backback and supplies to every student. Each school has approximately 800 students.

Aca,!A"Right now weAca,!a,,cre using a systematic way of distributing supplies throughout our (area of operation),Aca,!A? said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Green, target acquisition platoon leader. Aca,!A"So we started with these two schools and weAca,!a,,cre kind of going in a clockwise motion around our AO with school drops.Aca,!A?

There are approximately 10 schools in the unitAca,!a,,cs AO.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve gotten to know the people in our AO and it feels nice doing something good for them,Aca,!A? said Spc. Joseph Carroll, Aca,!A"It also gives the Army a positive image.Aca,!A?

This type of mission helps build relationship between Coalition forces and Iraqi residents.

Aca,!A"It shows the people that weAca,!a,,cre not just here for ourselves; weAca,!a,,cre going to work for the community, work for the children,Aca,!A? said Green, Aca,!A"I think if you win the children, you win the adults. TheyAca,!a,,cre kids just like our kids, they just have less.Aca,!A?

The unit plans to work with the CA team on a continuous basis until each school has supplies for every student, said Green.

Aca,!A"Hopefully the young ones remember American Soldiers as helpful, so maybe our kids wonAca,!a,,ct have to be here in 20 years,Aca,!A? said Pfc. Agustin Aguilar Jr., Aca,!A"They are grateful for anything and they donAca,!a,,ct look at us and run away--they know weAca,!a,,cre friendly to them.Aca,!A?

(Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis serves with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office)