Here is Spirit of America's Matt Valkovic in Garmsir, Afghanistan with a new friend. His friend is wearing a winter jacket and beanie given to him by Spirit of America and the US Marines.
This is the back story. In November, we asked your help to provide 1000 winter jackets, blankets and caps for Afghan school children in Garmsir. The jackets were needed to keep the children warm in the cold winter months, allowing them to continue to attend schools the Marines had opened in the summer and fall.
At the time Marine Captain Sven Jensen wrote: "Right now we have four schools, and children are flooding into the schools by the hundreds, no exaggeration. These people haven't had a school open since the soviet invasion of '79, so they are determined to send their children to school even though the Taliban are taking steps against it. Anyways, with winter right around the corner, the head elder here expressed his concern that the children have no cold weather clothes (coats, boots, gloves, beanies, etc.)."
You provided the financial support and we sprung into action. Our goal was to get the jackets to Garmsir by Christmas. We didn't make Christmas but we came close. With Spirit of America's personnel on the ground, working alongside the Marines, we were able to source the jackets and caps in Afghanistan. The gear was delivered to Garmsir and a week ago about 250 of the jackets were given to children at the Mian Poshtay School.
Here are Major Andersen and LtCol Matt Reid with the Marines in Garmsir checking out the winter jackets provided by Spirit of America.
Afghan boys at the Mian Poshtay school with new jackets, blankets and wool caps
A Marine distributing the jackets and wool hats
Matt said, The Battalion Sergeant Major told me that today was one of the best he's experienced since their tour began back in November.
And Marine Brent Cook told Matt, "I usually don't get to see a lot of these events but seeing these kids' faces, it made my day. Thank you, America!"
More details and photos are here.
As I type, Matt and Chris Hellie (our other field representative) are with Marines in Musa Qaleh. The Marines tell them that warm clothing is needed there, too. Keeping children in schools is a priority of our troops throughout Afghanistan.
The immediate need is for 300 jackets and caps for children attending school in the tents shown here. A winter jacket costs $16 (delivered) and a beanie is $1. You can contribute for the needed winter gear here.
More news coming in the next several days. With Matt and Chris in Afghanistan.
All the best,
Jim Hake and the Spirit of America team
ps: thanks to all those who helped us reach and exceed by more than 80% our year-end online fundraising goal. More soon on how those funds are already being put to use.
Note: The photos and statements above do not constitute endorsement of Spirit of America by the United States Department of Defense or its personnel.