2006 Archive of Blog posts

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SoA featured in Wall Street Journal

Dan Henninger's Wonder Land OpEd column in the Wall Street Journal once again features information on Spirit of America. An excerpt is below. If you are a WSJ subscriber, you can read the interesting and timely article at www.online.wsj.com under the Opinion section.

"If someone this weekend says 'Happy New Year' in Iraq or Afghanistan, would anyone in the world hear it? For many, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have become like trees falling in an empty forest...

It is ironic that despite the years of our daily engagement in these places, the 'information age' has brought us so little knowledge about the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Psychologically, much of American has already cut and run from these two countries.
Some Americans, though, simply won't.
In April 2004, this column told the story of Spirit of America, organized by Jim Hake to provide citizen-supported aid to the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Groups such as Spirit of America...may yet be driven out. It is to this country's credit that early on, they voted with their feet to go in, and regret nothing."
Daniel Henninger, Wonder Land column in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, December 29, 2006.

Spirit of America at Work in Fallujah

 
While walking a patrol with the Iraqi Army in Fallujah last week, I ran across a group of young children heading to school. Many of them had backpacks, and all of the backpacks were identical. This immediately made me think of Spirit of America's school backpack program, so I contacted Jim Hake and Michele Redmond.
Michele is confident that these backpacks are indeed part of the Marines Benefit Day outreach program in Al Anbar province. The Marines Benefit Day program was conceived by LtCol Jeff Nagel and sought to put 60,000 backpacks in the hands of Iraqi children in western Iraq. Spirit of America contributed over 10,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, along with a gift and an Arabic-language book for children.
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It was just amazing to see this Spirit of America program at work in the heart of Fallujah. School supplies continue to be one of Spirit of America's most popular requests.
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Phase I Winter Clothing Started-More Needed

Initial purchases totaling nearly $20,000 for the US Troops Request Winter Clothing project have begun. Over 800 blankets, 600 jackets and scarves are being shipped via military mail for requests from Major Scott Kish serving in Ramadi, US Marine Captain Karen Anderson stationed in the remote area of Al Qaim near the Syrian Border and the 2D Battalion, 3D Marines Captain Jeff Liebenguth and 2nd Lieutenant Jason Wengel in Al Anbar Province.

Being able to protect yourself and your family from the elements is such a basic right of life. And, as the request from Marines Liebenguth and Wengel attests "it will be the children of Iraq that will suffer the effects of the winter cold the most". Sending a blanket or a coat is a small gesture, but one that may leave a lasting impression--both for the receiver and the giver. If you have large donations of blankets, tarps, jackets or sweaters that you would like to contribute to this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include "Winter Clothing Donation" in the subject line.

Soccer Equipment & School Supplies on the Way to Iraq

This time of year, with shoppers navigating crowded malls balancing shopping bags filled to the brim with Holiday presents, it's hard to imagine what life is like for children caught up in the midst of war. For many children in Iraq and Afghanistan, simple things like soccer balls nets and school supplies are in short supply.

During this season of giving, we are so grateful for our donors who allow us to respond to military requests to give gifts..and hope..to children. Thanks to your donations to SoA's Gifts for Children project, soccer balls and nets are on their way to U S Marine Sergeant Dean Marquart to compliment their work to refurbish a school in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

In addition, over 2250 school backpacks filled with supplies will be distributed by Army Civil Affairs team member Les Moton for schoolchildren in Balad, Iraq and to Major Britt Rosenberry stationed in Fallujah. You can read an account of Bill Roggio's meeting with the Major in the blog, School Supplies for the Children of Al Anbar.Major Rosenberry wrote to us in his initial request,

"We are faced with terrorists trying to close schools and convince the population they do not need a formal education. In order to keep kids interested, we've been handling out backpacks with notebooks and pens/pencils. The kids (and parents) can't get enough of them."

Iraq, Afghanistan; New Request for Winter Clothing

Dear Supporters and Friends,

This message includes:

  • Three updates from Iraq (re: school supplies and library books provided by Spirit of America), including a message from embedded journalist Bill Roggio.
  • An update from Afghanistan re: a school reconstruction project supported by Spirit of America.
  • A new request from Marines for winter clothing and blankets for Iraqis. If you know of a corporate donor for winter clothing, let us know (see below).

As we near the end of the year, we would appreciate your consideration of a gift to Spirit of America. More on this below. First we'd like to share with you one of the things that makes our work so rewarding; seeing those who benefit from your generous support. Here is a photo of an Afghani schoolgirl with a microscope donated by Spirit of America (based on a request from US Army personnel).

BILL ROGGIO EMBEDDED IN IRAQ - MSG FROM FALLUJAH
Bill Roggio is a journalist embedded with the Marines in Al Anbar, Iraq. He's been meeting with some of the Marines Spirit of America has helped. Bill's blog is here. Following is a message from Bill after his meeting with Major Britt Rosenberry:

Since of Fallujah was wrested from the control of al-Qaeda and the insurgency in November of 2004, the Coalition and Iraq government have worked to restore security and basic services the warn-torn city. Major Britt Rosenberry, stationed in Camp Fallujah, has 3-man teams who patrol with the Army and Marine Infantry throughout the entire Al Anbar Province. They interact with the citizens and concerned with their plight.

This generation of kids are the key to Iraq's future success. Al-Qaeda and the insurgency has been conducting a "Taliban-like campaign" to close down schools, keep children uneducated. They harass and intimidate principals (called headmasters) and teachers. This year, a headmaster was kidnapped in front of the students and later assassinated.

One of Major Rosenberry's highest priorities is the children. They are highly susceptible to insurgent propaganda, and ripe for recruitment by the insurgents. "Schools are easy targets," said Major Rosenberry. "The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army patrol the city, but are not always providing overwatch to fixed locations." To counter the intimidation of Al-Qaeda closing schools, they are secretly opened in homes. But this comes at a cost. Some children may travel up to two hours a day for two hours of instruction. And the provincial schools, whether they are established or clandestine, need supplies. School books, notebooks, pens pencils and other school items are in short supplies.

To fill this need, Major Rosenberry asked for help from home. "Don't send the fat pill," the care package filled with candy, Major Rosenberry told friends and family back home. "Send us notebooks and pens."

Not only do the school supplies help the Iraq children, but they help to defeat al-Qaeda and insurgency. "When fighting an information war, it is important to back up words with actions," said Major Rosenberry. Providing the school supplies allows the Coalition and Iraqi security forces to live up to their commitment to keeps schools open. The mission also introduces the children to the Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers and Marines. "They get to see we are human. They laugh, we makes jokes. We take off the gear and by the time we leave we're exchanging hugs. When we return, they recognize us."

Bill's message is also posted here.

LIBRARY BOOKS IN IRAQ
A 40-foot ocean container of books purchased by Spirit of America as part of our Library Books for Iraqi Children project has arrived in Baghdad and will be distributed to schools and libraries by the LIFE organization. Tagging along with this shipment were 4,000 textbooks donated to Wasit University in Iraq by students and teachers at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. The textbook donation was arranged by US Marine Colonel David Couvillon. "Couv" is a Spirit of America "old timer" - he made our first request in June, 2003. (You can read about that project here.)

Here is a photo of the textbooks donated to Wasit University. More on this project is here.

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MICROSCOPES FOR AFGHAN SCHOOLCHILDREN
At the request of US Army personnel in Afghanistan and with your support, Spirit of America donated 55 microscopes for a reconstructed school in Kabul Afghanistan. Two photos of this are below. You can read more about this project and see more photos here and here.

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SCHOOL SUPPLIES - BALAD, IRAQ
Les Moton serving with US Army Civil Affairs in Balad, Iraq sent us several photos of the distribution of school supplies donated by Spirit of America. Here is one of them:

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For more photos and information, go here:

I hope this explains my project. For me, it is empowering local leaders and helping them to assist their own Iraqi people... I could never thank you or Spirit of America enough! This is why our country is the greatest. "

Respectfully submitted and Semper Fidelis,

Major Scott Kish, Civil Affairs Officer 1st Battalion, 6th Marines

Read the whole thing and contribute here: US Troops Request Winter Clothing - if you know know of a manufacturer that could donate winter clothing in quantity, please reply to this email. Here is a photo of distribution of SoA-donated blankets last winter in Afghanistan.

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YEAR-END GIVING

Although we have seen encouraging accomplishments through our work, the news in general from Iraq and Afghanistan this year has been discouraging. We, however, are not dissuaded. We know the immediate impact of the support we've provided to Americans on the front lines in Afghanistan, Iraq and, most recently, the Horn of Africa has improved relations, helped save lives and provided important encouragement and material support to those struggling for freedom. Providing this support is a clear and compelling "good thing." Accordingly, as long as we receive requests for assistance from Americans serving abroad, we will be here and do our best to support them. We have total belief in the ideals for which our great country stands and we understand this is a marathon and not a sprint. We hope you will stick with us.

Please consider a year-end gift to Spirit of America. Your support makes possible all the projects you read about in emails like this one. A gift to our Unrestricted Fund gives us the greatest flexibility to direct funds where needed the most. To make a gift, please call 1-800-691-2209 or visit our site.

Checks may be sent to Spirit of America, File 50315, Los Angeles, CA 90074-0315. If you would like to speak with Peggy Findley regarding a stock gift, please call 310-481-9123.

Best wishes for a very merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a happy, prosperous New Year and a continued appreciation of our many blessings. And, as always, thank you for your support.
Jim Hake and the team at Spirit of America


School Supplies for the Children of Anbar

Since Fallujah was wrested from the control of al-Qaeda and the insurgency in November of 2004, the Coalition and Iraq government have worked to restore security and basic services the warn-torn city. Major Britt Rosenberry, stationed in Camp Fallujah, has 3-man teams who patrol with the Army and Marine Infantry throughout the entire Al Anbar Province. They interact with the citizens and concerned with their plight.

This generation of kids are the key to Iraq's future success. Al-Qaeda and the insurgency has been conducting a "Taliban-like campaign" to close down schools, keep children uneducated. They harass and intimidate principals (called headmasters) and teachers. This year, a headmaster was kidnapped in front of the students and later assassinated.

One of Major Rosenberry's highest priorities is the children. They are highly susceptible to insurgent propaganda, and a ripe for recruitment by the insurgents. "Schools are easy targets," said Major Rosenberry. "The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army patrol the city, but are not always providing overwatch to fixed locations." To counter the intimidation of al-Qaeda closing schools, they are secretly opened in homes. But this comes at a cost. Some children may travel up to two hours a day for two hours of
instruction. And the provincial schools, whether they are established or clandestine, need supplies. School books, notebooks, pens pencils and other school items are in short supplies.

To fill this need, Major Rosenberry asked for help from home. "Don't send the fat pill," the care package filled with candy, Major Rosenberry told friends and family back home. "Send us notebooks and pens."

Not only do the school supplies help the Iraq children, but they help to defeat al-Qaeda and insurgency. "When fighting an information war, it is important to back up words with actions," said Major Rosenberry. Providing the school supplies allows the Coalition and Iraqi security forces to live up to their commitment to keeps schools open. The mission also introduces the children to the Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers and Marines. "They get to see we are human. They laugh, we makes jokes. We take off the gear and by the time we leave we're exchanging hugs. When we return, they recognize us."

Bill Roggio writes at billroggio.com and is currently embedded in Iraq.

Iraqi Children Receive School Supplies and Hope

Les Moton serving with Army Civil Affairs stationed in Balad, Iraq sent us these delightful pictures of thankful schoolchildren receiving their school supplies donated by Spirit of America as part of our Gifts for Children project.

School supplies and backpacks are very well-received by Iraqi children who not only get the practical benefits of much-needed supplies but also the encouragement of having strangers reach out in kindness.

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LIFE Perseveres Through Tragedy to Deliver Books

LIFE organization, which has been a valued partner in our Library Books for Iraqi Children project, tragically lost their Director of Programs in Baghdad, Abdul-Sattar Abdullah Al-Mashhadani, when he was killed at a checkpoint reportedly run by sectarian militias last month.

Despite these devastating circumstances, they remain committed to their mission of improving conditions in Iraq. Their dedicated staff recently received the 40' ocean container packed with library books for 9 schools in Iraq purchased from Books-A-Million with funds generously donated by SoA supporters and friends.  Look for photos and updates of the installation of the books as soon as we received them.

Tagging along with this shipment were 4,000 textbooks collected by students and teachers at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. US Marine Colonel David Couvillon, who was one of SoA's first requestors in Iraq, approached us to help with transport of these books bound for Wasit University in Iraq. LIFE personnel graciously facilitated delivery of the books from Baghdad to the university in Al-Kut. Below are pictures of the delivery to grateful school officials.

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No endorsement of Spirit of America by the US Department of Defense or its personnel is intended or implied.