Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Operation Ruby Slipper shipment made

February 15, 2007

Boxes of items donated through Operation Ruby Slipper shipped out Wednesday.

Filled with children's clothes, shoes and toys, the boxes are bound for Baghdad, where members of the 2nd Battalion 130th Field Artillery Brigade will distribute them.

The venture is sponsored by the brigade and the Kansas Army National Guard.

Sharon Watson, Kansas National Guard public affairs officer, said the plan to collect and send items for children originated with members of this unit, who have been stationed in Baghdad for about nine months.

"They are in a position where they come in contact with families and children there," Watson said. "They had seen that some of the children that didn't have shoes, who didn't have toys and other things."

After Kirk Peterson, a member of the Kansas brigade suggested they ask Kansans to donate items, another member, John Campbell, knew whom to call on to help.

Campbell's father, Charles Campbell, owns Studdard Moving and Storage in Leavenworth. He agreed to serve as a point of contact to receive, or to send trucks to pick up the items. And he arranged for his staff to pack the items to ship to Iraq.

Campbell credited Liz Montano of Topeka radio station WIBW with helping get the word out about the program and arranging a day for Topeka-area residents to drop off items.

Monday, Campbell said 60 boxes were ready to send, including 30 brought in from a Wichita-area high school on Saturday.

The boxes are being shipped to Iraq through the Denton Program, which allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need.

Watson said she didn't know if the program would be repeated.

"At this time it's going to end Feb. 14," Watson said. "But there's a possibility that it could be continued on, or have another type of project in the future."

The unit would remain in Baghdad awhile longer.

"Once they provided these items, they may see there is an opportunity to do more humanitarian work while they are there," Watson said.

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