Thursday, May 03, 2007

Making Iraq's future brighter: Operation School Supplies

From CentCom:
KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNEWS) --- No more pencils, no more books ... literally.

Airmen from the 506th Air Expeditionary Group here are doing what they can to put these and other needed supplies back in the hands of Iraqi children.

Photo: A girl smiles after receiving a bag of school supplies at a school April 18 near Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq. This effort is part of Operation Iraqi School Supplies sponsored by the 506th Air Expeditionary Group. School supplies are sent from people all over the United States. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Jaun Jimenez) Operation Iraqi School Supplies is a program where school supplies are donated to local Iraqi students who wouldn't otherwise have what's needed for a good education. Airmen made solicitations to organizations in the U.S. to send the most basic, and much needed, items students need for education.

"The supplies come from all over the U.S.," said Senior Airman Misty Edwards, a 506th AEG chaplain assistant. "(Items came) mostly from schools, church groups, companies and individuals. We even received supplies from a biker organization."

In all, Airman Edwards said they received 4,000 pounds of supplies during the Air Expeditionary Force 5 and 6 cycle. She expects that number to be about 5,000 pounds by the end of her tour next month.

Volunteers are crucial to the operation, Airman Edwards said. They are needed to collect and sort donations, bag and inventory the supplies, and coordinate the deliveries.

Once the supplies arrive at Kirkuk Air Base, organizing them and getting everything ready for delivery is a top priority for volunteers throughout the base.

Most of our volunteers are from the fire department, Airman Edwards said. They come out two days a month. For the most part, we will have about eight people every time.

"We'll sort the supplies into separate bins every Tuesday, and we fill the bags every Thursday," Airman Edwards said. "Each bag is packed with construction paper, a notebook, a box of crayons, 10 pencils, five pens, five markers, five color pencils, an eraser, glue, scissors, a metric ruler and a little toy. We also send coloring books and soccer balls for all the students."

For the volunteers, Operation School Supplies is a great experience and something they will be able to take with them when they leave Iraq, not to mention, what it does for the children of Iraq.
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