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Soldiers Reach Out to Iraqis with Help From Home
Defend America News ^ | Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma

Posted on 04/18/2007 8:12:31 PM PDT by SandRat

BAGHDAD, April 18, 2007 — Although the Emerald City gates and a yellow brick road are nowhere to be found, these “Sunflower State” soldiers are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

With family and friends back home wanting to help the cause and the Iraqi people needing so much help, one Topeka, Kan., Army National Guard unit stepped up to the plate and killed two birds with one stone with Operation Ruby Slippers.

“Operation Ruby Slippers is a result of being outside in the battle space and recognizing the humanitarian aid piece with the Iraqi people that isn’t being provided right now,” said Lt. Col. Kirk Pederson, a civil affairs officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 130th Field Artillery Brigade.

Pederson said that taking his brigade commander out to the Civil Military Operations Center, a place where Iraqis can come get medical treatment and pick up some supplies, is what tipped the scales toward starting up the operation.

"Whether its soccer balls, pencils, school supplies or doing a medical operation where we augmented with supplies given from our family and friends and neighbors from back home, its all welcomed with open arms and sincerity by the local leaders that we get it to."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kirk Pederson

“It was that experience and that interaction with the Iraqi people and the children that made us say, ‘We need to do something,’” said the Shawnee, Kan., native.

The operation asked for the surrounding communities of Topeka to donate everything from over-the-counter medicines, tape, bandages, wraps – the essentials for the basic first aid kit – to clothing and school supplies.

Pederson added that they will be delivering these donations directly to the Iraqi people who need it most.

“Whether its soccer balls, pencils, school supplies or doing a medical operation where we augmented with supplies given from our family and friends and neighbors from back home, its all welcomed with open arms and sincerity by the local leaders that we get it to,” Pederson said. “The local leaders can make sure the right people in their neighborhood get what they need.”

Contributions have been as big as providing the warehouse holding area for all the things being donated or as small as donating a pair of sneakers for an Iraqi child.

The collaboration of all the people, back home and here in the Iraqi capital, resulted in two tons worth of donations.

Pederson said that he knows that people, companies and corporations back home want to help. Whether it’s during a hurricane disaster or tsunami, the American people are known for their generosity and compassion, he said.

“Whether its soccer balls, pencils, school supplies or doing a medical operation where we augmented with supplies given from our family and friends and neighbors from back home, its all welcomed with open arms and sincerity by the local leaders that we get it to,” Pederson said. “The local leaders can make sure the right people in their neighborhood get what they need.”

Contributions have been as big as providing the warehouse holding area for all the things being donated or as small as donating a pair of sneakers for an Iraqi child.

The collaboration of all the people, back home and here in the Iraqi capital, resulted in two tons worth of donations.

Pederson said that he knows that people, companies and corporations back home want to help. Whether it’s during a hurricane disaster or tsunami, the American people are known for their generosity and compassion, he said.

“Through our (radio) drive, the first donation we got was an anonymous donor. He walked up to the disc jockey and rolled out five $100 bills and said, ‘This is for the soldiers. I didn’t know what to get, but take this money and go buy what they need for the Iraqi people,’” Pederson said.

Despite all the generosity, one challenge still stands in their way.

“We are having difficulty via the requirements of the Denton Amendment, getting an Iraqi custodian to accept the donations and acquire the customs approval in Iraq,” Pederson said.

Although many people have pulled together to get this humanitarian aid project rolling, it will cost an estimated $20,000 to privately ship the rest of the donated items from Kansas to Iraq.

Pederson said he knew that getting donations - because they’re National Guard, because they’re military and because they’re family - would be the easy part. “Now,” he said, “it’s about getting it from Point A to Point B.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: Kansas; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: frwn; help; iraqis; soldiers

1 posted on 04/18/2007 8:12:34 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...
FR WAR NEWS!

WAR News at Home and Abroad You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

Or if they do report it, without the anti-War Agenda Spin!

2 posted on 04/18/2007 8:12:55 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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