4th Infantry Division Operation Supplies Iraqi School Children
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT HOOD, Texas, Oct. 17, 2003 More than 4,000 pounds of school supplies reached Iraq recently thanks to the U.S. Army's Task Force Iron Horse, according to Maj. William Kennedy, 4th Infantry Division.
The division launched Operation Pencil Box to collect, organize and send school supplies to Iraq. The division's rear detachment ships the goods to 4th ID units in Iraq, where the infantrymen disperse the goods to nearly 2,000 schools in their area of operation.
Task Force Iron Horse soldiers have been renovating schools and playgrounds so that Iraqi children can begin classes. Though the school buildings may have been ready, division soldiers reported the Iraqi school children are in dire need of these and other basic items.
Children returning to school in Tikrit, Balad, Ad Duluiyah and Al Kifah will now receive pens, pencils, paper, notebooks and calculators, among other supplies.
The shipment sent from Texas contained donations from schools and businesses from the Fort Hood area as well as Dallas and Houston. Wal-Mart, Fort Hood National Bank and General Motors in Austin made significant contributions, division officials said.
A local school sponsored contests and Domino's Pizza gave a pizza party to the class that collected the most donations.
"Virtually every school in the Killeen, Copperas Cove and Lampasas school districts participated," Kennedy said.
"Everybody (who) cares called people saying, 'Hey, send me stuff,'" he added. "I've got boxes that show up every day in the mail -- just a little standard postal package with a couple stacks of paper and a couple (packages) of pencils and that kind of thing."
The grassroots effort extended all the way to Sacramento, Calif., the hometown of Maj. Derek Schneider, 308th Civil Affairs Brigade.
Various churches, schools and veteran's groups in Sacramento donated to the cause upon learning about the Iraqi school conditions from Schneider. The 308th, with the help of the 3rd Combat team, distributed the supplies to their area of responsibility.
"This is a way for American's to show their concern and compassion to the people of Iraq," Schneider said. "A very direct way to do that is to provide for the Iraqi children."
While Operation Pencil Box officially ended Oct. 3, Kennedy said, things are still "trickling in" and the division already has another two shipping containers ready to go.