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Mr. Dave Gillium, the guidance counselor at Sangster Elementary in Burke, Va., and students from the schools student council stand behind boxes of school supplies that were collected for a needy school in Samsiyah, Iraq. The Iraqi school children were in an uproar of excitement and anticipation as Marines from Weapons Company, Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 arrived with a load of goodwill from a caring group of children a half a world away.

Photo by Sangster Elementary School

Kids helping kids: Iraqi school receives stateside support

28 Apr 2008 | Cpl. Billy Hall

In a quiet village along the Euphrates River in Iraq, the local school children were in an uproar of excitement and anticipation as Marines from Weapons Company, Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 arrived with a shipment of goodwill from a caring group of children a half a world away.

The school children of Samsiyah, Iraq, have endured many hardships in past years, from dilapidated facilities to lack of supplies. Though recently, a glimmer of hope has come to them, not only in the form of school supplies, but through a message that they are not alone in their struggle.

Sangster Elementary School of Burke, Va., rallied together their community to come to the aid of the less fortunate and support the ongoing efforts in Iraq.

"The Samsiyah project was a great opportunity for the students, their parents and the Sangster community to help a Marine combat unit and to help, in a very real and direct way, the children of Iraq,” said Tanya Burns, a parent of one of the Sangster Elementary school students. “It was a unique situation and the school was enthusiastic and excited to help.”

The fact that a group of children can come together and learn the benefits of generosity while helping other children across the globe made the occasion that much more meaningful.

“Sangster always wants to teach kids about community service and charitable giving in a way the kids can understand,” said Burns. “This was the perfect project, kids helping kids.”

Boxes filled with various school supplies, such as paper, pencils and notebooks, were distributed amongst the Iraqi school children as Marines proudly acted as liaisons between the two schools.

“A couple of boxes of school supplies may seem insignificant to some, but it meant the world to these children,” said 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Cummings, a platoon commander with Weapons Co. “The smiles on their faces were indescribable. It always feels good when you get to take on a humanitarian mission such as this one.”

The school supplies may only fill a temporary void, but the knowledge that someone out there truly cares will leave a lasting impression at the little school in Samsiyah. Though in the end, kids helping kids has proven to be beneficial at both ends.

“It provided an opportunity to teach the kids here about charity, contribution and service, and it also served to remind us of the Marines serving in Iraq who sacrifice to make this country great,” said Burns.  “It also provided a way for the students to say thank you to those Marines by helping them in their job of fostering goodwill."


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