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Tom Hennessy

Columnist, Long Beach Press Telegram
300 Oceangate
Long Beach, CA† 90844
(562)† 499-1270
During the summer, our effort to send school supplies, small toys and T-shirts to the children of war-town Iraq was put on hold. Most of these items went to such places as Mosul, Ramadi and Tal Afar.

Now we are resuming Operations Kids.

We are appealing to everyone, but especially teachers and students, to reach out to Iraqi children, the truly innocent victims of the war.

Before explaining how all of you can help, let me provide you some background on how Operation Kids came into being.

Plea from Iraq

The program began as a family affair. In January, 2006, our son, John, a battalion commander in the First Armored Division, was deployed to Iraq, his second posting in the country. Soon after arriving there, he sent an e-mail which, in part, talked about items his soldiers liked to receive from home.

Then John's concerns turned to the kids of Iraq.

"For me, personally I have one request: please send gifts for the Iraqi kids. As parents, think of 3 to 13 year-olds who have seen war most or all of their lives and who have known little joy as a result.

"Think, too, of small, individually-wrapped candy, sugar-based hard candy, pocket-sized stuffed animals, brightly-colored school supplies, fun T-shirts (they really liked ones with U.S. city names imprinted on them), and small toys like Hot Wheel cars, yo-yos and super balls."

Politicians declare wars, soldiers fight them, and parents, especially moms, worry over them. After John's e-mail arrived, my wife, Debbie, joined forces with two computer-savvy friends, Margie McConnell and Jeri Livingstone, and organized a Web site for Operation Kids. (for additional details, please check out the links at†† http://www.operationkids.info/ )

The idea was to send kid items to John's troops and let them distribute them to the children of Iraq. This allowed Iraqi youngsters to see U.S. soldiers in a positive light.

Later, CWO Dave Kean, a Long Beach firefighter and a reservist on helicopter duty in Mosul, was added to our list of recipients.

O.K. was launched in the column on Mother's Day of 2006. The response has been beyond anything we anticipated. We have no way of knowing exactly how many boxes were received, but John estimates it to have been close to 1,000.

New recipient

John is home now, as is Dave Kean. Operation Kids has a new recipient whose name is on computer file with Postal Annex. † For nine months, Lt. Col. Guy Edmondson, stationed in Mosul, distributed our school supplies and toys to Iraqi children. †Now LTC Edmondson has returned safely home, and our son has given us a new contact, an Army officer based in Tal Afar who has worked with our son, and agreed to continue our project. † Your donations will be distributed through him, and you may take your goods to Postal Annex who will package and ship them to Tal Afar.

Last summer, LTC Edmondsonwrote:

"We are putting together an operation in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Mosul. The Brigade Commander suggested that we execute the mission during Ramadan, as that is the traditional time of the year to provide for those less fortunate.

"We have about a half a truckload of clothes and a truckload of school supplies. Col. Taha (the brigade commander) suggested that we visit several area schools about the first of October. Once we execute the mission, I'll be sending you some pictures for your organization, so that you can see the looks of amazement on the faces of the children."

Your items can be dropped off with Chuck and Temple Roath, of Postal Annex in East Long Beach.Once again, they have volunteered to help, even to the extent of packaging your materials, if you bring them into their location. †Postage costs are paid for with funds donated by Press-Telegram readers.

You can also help by sending a contribution for our Operation Kids postage fund. The address: Tom and Deb Hennessy, Operation Kids,†† 6444 E. Spring Street, #245, Long Beach, CA 90815-1553.† Checks should be made out to “Postal Annex”. Meanwhile, if you have any questions regarding items to send, please call me at the number listed below, or check out the link, "How YOU Can Help."

By helping Iraqi children, you are helping our American soldiers as well. Thank you for that.

Tom Hennessy's viewpoint now appears every†Sunday. For comments or questions about Operation Kids, please contact Debbie Hennessy at††debtom@mac.com †or by phone at 562 - 499-1270.

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We're OK

OperationKids.Info†

(Recently, John sent us the following postscript.)

Maybe this e-mail can also serve as a thank you from me to your readers, who have been sending gifts for our Soldiers to give to the children. The children of†Iraq
are its future.† †The way they play, the way they smile, and the way they act toward us when we give them your sweet and simple presents is as helpful to them as it is to us.

War is not a happy endeavor, and enabling us to hand out a little sunshine brings joy in our lives as well.

You, the readers of the Press-Telegram, and others who have donated to Operation Kids have made the lives of many Iraqi children happier and more hopeful.† And, in turn, more hopeful for Iraq and our world.†

Thanks from the Iron Dukes.

Love, John.


(Please see information added 11/9/08 at link "The Story of OperationKids.Info" †Thank You)

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