Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div.
RADWANIYAH, Iraq – Jasmine, an Iraqi child with unkempt hair and dressed in tattered clothes, reached her hand out for a pair of shoes. She was not concerned with the brand, style or even the size of the shoes, she simply wanted a pair of shoes to replace the sandals she was wearing – sandals which were too small, causing her toes to touch the pavement when she walked.
Providing needed items such as this was a highlight for Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers from the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, who assisted in handing out anything from shoes to shampoo to Iraqi children like Jasmine at the Civil Military Operations Center Saturday in Radwaniyah, southeast of Baghdad.
“I wanted to be able to do something nice to help the community and show the Iraqis we are here to help them,” said Michelle Winicki, a medic with the 210th BSB.
The items the Soldiers passed out to the children came from the support of the American people in the form of a Victory Box, filled with items to give to the Iraqis.
The Victory Boxes were started by Mary Halleck, of Colleyville, Texas. Halleck originally started sending boxes to Soldiers who had no families to send them anything.
After sending numerous care packages to Soldiers, Halleck received a letter from a Soldier asking her if she would be able to send school supplies to the Iraqi children.
After a few fundraisers, Halleck and her friends came up with the idea of Victory Boxes – boxes containing goods needed for the Iraqi people to help them in their fight for freedom.
“I’ve never really done anything for my country,” Halleck said. “I envisioned our (American) families sending boxes to the people of Iraq through the Soldiers.”
The boxes were intended to help the Iraqis as they train to defend their country, get their economy going, clothe their families and educate their children.
“The support (that the Iraqi people are receiving) is great,” said Sgt. Billie Caperton, a medic with 210th BSB. “It feels like the Iraqis want us here, and it feels good that the American people understand they (the Iraqi people) are in a tough situation and want to help the Iraqis.”
Unlike the majority of children who ask for the latest video game, name-brand clothes or a new toy, the Iraqi children ask for basic necessities that most take for granted – items like shampoo, shoes, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Most of the children asking for the items have never had the money to buy products to wash their hair or brush their teeth. For them, these items are special.
The simple act of giving the Iraqi children basic items has led to the discovery of dangerous weapons and improvised-explosive devices. Sometimes when the Iraqi children recognize Soldiers who have helped them, they show the Soldiers where such dangerous weapons are located.
“Giving the children items they need helps them get over the fear of people (Soldiers) in uniform,” said Capt. Mark Griffin, a civil affairs officer, who operates with the 2nd BCT, a native of San Antonio. “It shows them that people in uniform are not bad.”
With the help of people like Halleck, Soldiers are able to help the Iraqi people.
“This is a great program because there is such a huge need for supplies in Iraq,” Griffin said. “When the American people get involved, it helps us push products out and give the Iraqi people a better shot at standing up their country. They are given the things they need to survive.”
Currently, the 2nd BCT Soldiers are helping get these special boxes out to the Iraqi people. Overall, there have been approximately 5,000 boxes sent to Soldiers.
“These boxes are from the American people to the Iraqi people through the Soldiers,” Halleck added.
Now, with the support of the American people, Iraqi children like Jasmine will be able to wear a pair of shoes that fit, wash their hair and brush their teeth.
For more information about Victory Boxes log on to www.victoryboxes.com.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie