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Soldiers bring toys to Iraqi children

POSTED: November 1, 2007 5:00 a.m.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq — The children of Al-Juburi received 899 boxes of donated toys and clothes in celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of Ramadan, Oct. 8.
Civil Affairs Team 911, 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, out of Knoxville, Tenn., currently attached to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, delivered the toys and clothes to approximately 450 children.
“We, as civil affairs, are often given the privilege of providing these small gestures of kindness in a country that has had more than its fair share of hardships,” said Maj. James Gregory F. Lester, from Knoxville, Tenn., the team chief for Team 911.
Lester said his team is always enthusiastic to interact and build relations with the Iraqi people. The Al-Juburi Village, which is predominately Sunni, is located in an area where extremists are attempting to incite sectarian violence and tension. The team’s hope, Lester said, was that a donation, no matter how small, would help influence good will with the people of Al-Juburi.
The three days following Ramadan are traditionally festive occasions in Islamic communities, where people feast and exchange small gifts.
The toys and clothes were all donated from U.S. citizens who mailed the items to the 1-15 Inf. Regt. at their own expense. The average cost to mail one of the boxes was $36.
Lester hoped the mission could enable the children to see U.S. Soldiers in a different light.
“We hope that someday when one of these small children grow up maybe they’ll tell their children ‘I remember when the Americans came to our village and handed out toys after Ramadan,’” Lester said.
The 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.
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