Students sending supplies to Afghan children

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Elaine Aviles
  • 39th Wing Public Affairs
A handful of Incirlik Elementary School students embraced the spirit of giving this holiday season. Their gifts may not be the toys and games most children wish for, but the students hope their presents will have more lasting value.

The 14-member student council worked for months to collect school supplies for children in Afghanistan.

"School is very important," said Jourdan Rhodes, a sixth-grade student and student council member. "Education can't happen without the right supplies."

The project was the brainchild of Alex Kresin, a sixth-grade student last school year who wanted to send a positive message to Afghan children.

"Alex wanted to help out children whose lives were being disrupted by war," said Anne Roucher, a sixth-grade teacher and student council sponsor. "He empathized with the children in Afghanistan."

Alex wanted the Afghan children to have some semblance of security, and hoped that sending supplies would help in some small way, Roucher said.

Alex submitted a proposal to the principal, but it was approved too late in the year to be carried out. Although Alex moved last summer, this year's student council felt the project had a lot of merit and made it their first order of business.

"We felt it was important to give things that people actually need," said Syntii Jackson, a sixth-grade student and council member.

Once a decision was made, the council members got to work, posting signs and soliciting students for supplies.

"Aside from their awesome spirit of giving, this was a wonderful way for students to develop leadership skills," Roucher said. "The students had to send out flyers, pick up supplies every day and make announcements. They really stepped up to the plate."

With a growing pile of supplies, Roucher contacted Staff Sgt. Robert Powell, a civic affairs trustee with the local Air Force Sergeants Association chapter. AFSA members had volunteered months before to transport the supplies to the flightline for shipping.

"Our chapter thought the project was a great way to help out," he said.

Acting as a middleman, Powell contacted people from Air Mobility Command to work out the details of shipping the supplies.

"A project like this takes a lot of coordination," he said. "I was lucky enough to get in touch with the right people to organize this effort."

With the help of people from the 728th Air Mobility Squadron here, Powell was able to obtain approval to send the goods to Afghanistan.

"We're standing by for a flight right now," he said. "We're hoping to get the supplies shipped next week."

The boxes, stuffed with pens, pencils, notebooks, markers and other items, will be distributed to Afghan schoolchildren.

"I think the kids will be happy when they get all the supplies," said Shelby Wright, a sixth-grade student.

The students are also including a stack of letters with an invitation of friendship. They hope the language barrier will not prevent them from acquiring a few pen pals.

While the shipment did not make it in time for the holidays, Roucher said the spirit of giving was not wasted.

"Children, especially at Incirlik, are aware of current events," Roucher said. "They know Americans are fighting a battle in Afghanistan, but that it's the adults fighting, not the kids. They want to make sure Afghan kids have the means (to) go on with their lives just like we're doing here."