View Full Version : US students help Marines give school items to Afghani children

01-21-04, 07:04 AM
US students help Marines give school items to Afghani children
Monday January 19, 2004 (1358 PST)

MARIETTA, Januray 20 (Online): Dozens of boxes of crayons, markers, tablets, pens, pencils, sharpeners, bottles of glue and tape will soon be on their way to school children in Afghanistan, courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps and students at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Marietta.
The school supplies, which were picked up at the school on Friday by Marines wearing their full-dress uniforms, are destined for Bagram Air Base 40 miles north of Kabul, where the Helicopter Marine Light Attack 773 is stationed.

Known as the "Red Dogs," the squadron provides support for the ground troops charged with bringing stability to the volatile area, reports Western media.

In the course of their duties, the HMLA personnel personally observed the after-effects the deposed Taliban regime had on the children of the country, who suffered through the long period of instability and conflict.

Through a task force called Operation Red Dog Afghanistan, the Marines appealed to family and friends in the United States to help them help the Afghan children by sending toys and school supplies.

Kennesaw resident Maj. Paul Ozmer is attached to the HMLA squadron, which is part of Marine Aircraft Group 42 stationed at Naval Air Station Atlanta.

His son, 12-year-old Colt, is in seventh grade at St. Joseph's.

When Maj. Ozmer's wife, Karen, learned of the Red Dogs' initiative, she brought St. Joseph's into the collection loop.

As a rule, every Friday students at the Catholic school have the option of not wearing their uniform if they bring in 50 cents for a charitable cause or an item for donation.

One recent Friday, the call was put out for school supplies for Afghanistan, and it got a hearty response from St. Joseph's children and their families.

Every one of the school's 450 pupils brought something in, said school Development Director Missy Walthaus.

"I helped carry what we donated from our class, and we had five grocery bags full," said seventh-grader Chris DeMarco, 13.

His classmate and fellow Boy Scout, 13-year-old Mitch Mehaffey said he thinks the children who receive the brand new supplies "will be really excited because now they can learn properly."

Marine Maj. Ron Clifton of MAG-42 said all the effort made by the children and their families was greatly appreciated.

"Marines travel the world and see some not-so-great places and things. It makes us realize how affluent and truly blessed we are as Americans," Clifton said. "This is our way of reaching out to a war-torn area where there's been generations of devastation."

"We get all the stuff we need to maintain ourselves and in addition, we get a lot of support from family and friends who send us things," the major added. "When there's children living in a town with nothing, rather than have the wife and kids send us cookies, we'd like to have them donate items, like these supplies, so we can pass them along and uplift the recipients' spirits."

In addition to the good feeling that comes with helping others, the students in the kindergarten through eighth-grade school have a tangible link to the Red Dogs.

An American flag that was flown in an Alper Cobra helicopter during a combat mission in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom was given to the school and presented in a special ceremony and Mass on Wednesday.

It is now reverently displayed in a glass-fronted frame on a wall of the school office.

Ms. Walthaus said the flag "represents all of the school's parents who are in the military and are over there or in other duty overseas or who might be called to go."