By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Troops deployed to Balad Air Base in Iraq have begun a campaign for donations of goodies troops in the field can give to Iraqi children.
The items will be distributed by military personnel as they conduct missions to disarm explosive devices in the Iraqi countryside.
The goal of the project is to “give needy children kindness, love and joy with an ‘American style love,’” a letter from Cannon Air Force Base Tech. Sgt. David Collins said. Collins explained the project is part of an initiative called Operation Kindness Explosion.
Assigned to Cannon’s 27th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Collins is currently deployed to Balad, according to Cannon Air Force Base Public Affairs officer 2nd Lt. George Tobias.
In the course of their duties, Explosive Ordnance Disposal troops spend much of their time in areas with Iraqi civilian populations, the letter said. They often come into contact with local children and have begun the initiative so they can give small items to youth of the war-torn country.
“We are needing your help by providing us the tools (to complete the effort) with lots of needed items so we may re-distribute them to the children of lost parents and to the orphanages all around Iraq. We can touch children with God’s love one person at a time,” Collins wrote.
Being good neighbors in the midst of war is a goal of many U.S. servicemen who often meet children in need, Tobias said.
“If there’s anything we can do to help these children have a better lifestyle, we try to. A lot of times children in these areas don’t have toys, and a lot of times deployed airmen or families back home try to pitch in so the children can have things to enjoy,” Tobias said.
“For a lot of servicemen, if they have something they can give to brighten up that little kid’s day like a little piece of candy or a soccer ball, it makes a big difference in their lives and how they view the rest of the world.”
— Beanie Babies or other small stuffed toys
— Small teddy bears
— Hard candies (no chocolate)
— Toothbrushes, toothpaste and trial-size mouthwash
— Little toys such as bouncing balls or Hot Wheels
— Soccer balls (not inflated)
— School supplies: Coloring book packets with crayons/color pens included, pencils and pens, small writing tablets
— Games: T-ball sets, ring toss or other small games
Deadline to send: Dec. 13
TSgt. David Collins
ATTN: Operation Kindness Explosion
332 EAMXS/524 EAMU
APO AE 09315-9997