Sunday, May 07, 2006

It's Been long Month

So I realized today that I haven't posted any content at all to this blog. There have been a lot of time constraints recently, including training and certification and an exercise that has kept us on the go. That and the fact that my three peers left on their pre-deployment leave, with me filling their roles as I can. It has been busy, but fortunately, they all have great NCOs to back them up during their time at home with their families.

The truth is that I just got bogged down by some of the work and got into a bit of a rut. I am glad to have pulled myself out of it thanks to the help of some friends and my family back home.

So I guess the first thing I should write about is the success of our OPERATION BACKPACK.

It happened over two weeks ago, but I finally have the time to write about it.

On Friday, April 21st, about two dozen members of our task force followed up on a promise made in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in delivering 38 pallets of school supplies to schools in New Orleans. The event, dubbed “Operation Backpack”, delivered much needed supplies to the beleaguered school district as a good will gesture by our unit before we mobilize from Camp Shelby, Miss., to Afghanistan.

We took off after a thorough safety briefing and started the two hour drive to New Orleans. On reaching the ouutskirts, it started,The supplies will be delivered to the Macmain High School, Ben Franklin Elementary, Mary Bethune Accelerated School and the Mehamie Jackson Consolidated Center. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from Oregon were among over 24,000 Guard members to have deployed to the Gulf Coast region to assist in recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

With operations mostly in the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parrish and the Lakewood district, the 41st Brigade conducted civil relief and stability operations in some of the most hard hit areas of New Orleans. “Operation Backpack is our way of continuing to support the people that need it most,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Pritt, commanding general of the 41st Brigade.

“The people of the Gulf Coast touched our hearts and those of citizens back home. This is really America at its best…citizens helping citizens. We are proud of our service in Louisiana and want to continue to recognize and assist in the efforts to rebuild this unique area of the United States.” he said. The supplies were donated by private citizens from Oregon through a program that was facilitated by the Oregon Department of Education. We really are blessed to see such activism come to fruition. These kids were so delighted to get these much needed school supplies.

I got so many hugs from these kids. They were just delighted to get out of the class room, to run and romp in the rain and to see the overwhelming amount of goodness from people that wanted them to have a better life than they currently have.

In a letter from Mary Haynes-Smith, the principal of the Mary Bethune Elementary School, to BG Pritt, she wrote to us "The students were overjoyed by the experience of meeting you. We have been humbled by the genuine support and charitable contributions of individuals and organizations such as yours that give us hope for a brighter future. What a BLESSING! The school supplies and personal hygiene items will allow us the opportunity to provide students with additional materials for a long time to come. Thank you so much. We are excited and thankful."

This from the same principal that told us that she comes in to school every morning at 7:00 a.m. to be there just to listen to the kids. To hear their stories. As she explained to us, "I tell all of my teachers that these children won't be able to learn unless they can talk first and get these experiences out in the open.Some of them have lost so much, family, friends, loved ones, homes, all of their belongings. It just takes a lot, but thanks to people like you, it gets easier."

It was a great day.

-out here


Blogger NYC Taxi Shots said...

thank you

12:17 PM  
Blogger Huntress said...

As a Wish Granter for the Make A Wish Foundation, there is no greater feeling in the world than to bring a smile to a child's face.

Operation Backpack does indeed exemplifies the best of ordinary citizens who reach out with unconditional love to help children in need.

The smiles on the faces of these kids speaks louder than words.

The generousity of American citizens NEVER ceases to amaze me. I know of no other country in which it's citizens reach out daily to provide care packages for deployed soldiers, and then reach out through Operation Iraqi Children and other such organizations to provide packbacks filled with school supplies, dolls, toys, books, running shoes, soccer balls, etc to children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When in Afghanistan, I hope you and your unit look into the idea of creating "Operation Backpack: Afghanistan" and with the help of generous Americans and Canadians provide Afghani kids with school supplies, dolls & toys.

4:23 AM  

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