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Florida Guard Delivers Donations to Kabul Orphanage

By Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 30, 2006 – Blankets, school supplies and soccer balls made their way to hundreds of orphaned children here today thanks to a deployed Florida U.S. Army Guard unit and donations from Americans.

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Orphans at the Allahoddin orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan, line up to receive soccer balls and blankets from Army Lt. Col. Abe Conn, liaison officer with the 930th Army Liaison Team, out of Homestead, Fla. The items were donated from around the United States. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“This demonstrates America’s compassion,” said Col. Andrew Verrett, commander of the 930th Army Liaison Team, from Homestead, Fla. “We tend to be a nation of doers not talkers, and this project demonstrates that.”

The items -- nearly 2,000 blankets, 1,000 soccer balls and basic school supplies -- made their way from the United States to Kabul, where members of the 930th planned the distribution to the Allahoddin orphanage in Kabul.

“We wrote to newspapers back home and used the power of the Internet,” said Army Lt. Col. Abe Conn, liaison officer with the 930th. “One friend told another and so on. Before we knew it, we had received the blankets, balls and $3,500 for shipping. The whole unit helped with planning, inflating balls and distributing the donations.”

Though the items came in from across the United States, a multinational group helped deliver the goods, with Macedonian and British servicemembers helping the Guard unit unload the trucks and hand the items out to the children.

“It’s a sense of hope to the children who might not have any,” Conn said. “It is a promise of a brighter tomorrow.”

This is the second tour to the Afghan capital for the 930th. During the first, from July 2002 to March 2003, the unit raised $7,000 and built tables and chairs for the orphanage. Conn said the unit’s soldiers remembered the children kicking cans around and decided to give them something better to kick around.

“It’s a great thing to help other people, and that’s what we did here today,” Conn said. “We had a choice. We could have done nothing or we could have done something; … we chose to do something.”

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt is assigned to Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn orphan at the Allahoddin orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan, waits for a blanket after receiving a soccer ball delivered by servicemembers from the 930th Army Liaison Team, from Homestead, Fla. The items were donated from around the United States. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageOrphans crowd around servicemembers from the 930th Army Liaison Team, from Homestead, Fla., who delivered soccer balls, school supplies and blankets to the Allahoddin orphanage in the Afghan capital. The items were donated from around the United States. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageOrphans at the Allahoddin orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan, sit with new gifts of soccer balls and blankets. U.S. servicemembers from the 930th Army Liaison Team, from Homestead, Fla., delivered the supplies, which were donated from around the United States. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF  
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