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Team Holds Weekly Shoe Drive for Afghan Children

American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2009 – Every Friday, 60 to 70 Afghan children get shoes and socks at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush through the efforts of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Nurestan province.

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An Afghan boy tries on a new pair of shoes at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush in Afghanistan’s Nurestan province while visiting for medical treatment. Shoes, socks and coats are donated from several organizations throughout the United States. U.S Army photo by Spc. Casey Ware

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The project began when PRT member Army 1st Sgt. Terry Pittman saw two Afghan children leaving the base after receiving medical care and he noticed the barefooted older child was carrying the younger child. He learned the children had come from miles away, over harsh terrain, so the younger child could be treated for cold symptoms.

“It touched me, because I imagined my 12-year-old son walking that distance, with no shoes on and carrying his little sister,” Pittman said. He brought the children back to the base, rounded up sandals for them, and decided he had to do more. “I want to help the children of Afghanistan by making sure every child that walks on [to] this FOB leaves with shoes and socks.”

Pittman said he decided looking for a solution through humanitarian aid resources would take too long, so he called everyone he knew and asked them to send shoes. When members of the PRT heard the plan, they instantly supported it. Since then, shoes, socks, coats and toys have been coming in from across the United States.

“Without these people and their contributions, then this wouldn’t happen,” Pittman said. “I want to thank them all, because they have really gone beyond the call of duty to help the people here.”

For some of the children, the shoes replace battered sandals with holes worn through the soles. For other children, they are the first shoes they’ve ever worn.

“If these children don’t remember anything else about us being here, they might remember that an American soldier gave [them their] first pair of shoes or socks,” Pittman said.

(From a Task Force Duke news release.)

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Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageProvincial reconstruction team hands out shoes to Afghan children at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush in Afghanistan’s Nurestan province, Dec. 26, 2008. The shoe drive takes place every Friday while children are seen for medical treatment. U.S Army photo by Spc. Casey Ware  
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