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    Al-Alam students benefit from renovations, supplies

    Al-Alam students benefit from renovations, supplies

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Kelly Lecompte | Staff Sgt. Dale O'Neill, of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, stands hand in hand...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Kelly Lecompte 

    30th Armored Brigade Combat Team

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — From renovating a school building to supplying the children with much needed school supplies, U.S. and Iraqi forces have partnered together to send a positive message and strengthen the relationship between the Iraqi Security Forces and the children in the community.

    A steady stream of excited shouts, cheers in Arabic, clapping and a few English "thank yous" poured from the courtyard and echoed through the newly renovated building and glossy granite halls of the all male school of al-Alam Elementary, in the western Rashid district of Baghdad, during a visit from U.S. and Iraqi forces, Dec. 9.

    Soldiers of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Iraqi General Faisal and Command Sgt. Maj. Emjed, both of Iraqi 5th Brigade, 2nd Federal Police Division, along with several Federal Policemen distributed 600 bags of school supplies.

    U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers handed out baggies containing notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, folders and a small toy such as a bouncy ball or a pair of sunglasses, to excited school children.

    1st Lt. Michael Angeli, a civil affairs team chief, coordinated the trip as a culmination of the recent renovation done to the al-Alam school completed by the battalion in September.

    The repairs were made just in time for the students to begin the school year in October.

    "We were just trying to bring the project full circle and show continued support to the children," said Angeli, from Hartshorne, Okla.

    The school supplies came from care packages sent to several Soldiers, the biggest portion from Staff Sgt. Dale O'Neill, from Memphis Tenn. O'Neill's wife led a drive at their daughter's elementary school.

    "[My wife] collected 35 boxes of supplies from students, parents and teachers, and a good size of the contribution came from the local Wal-Mart, in Bartlett, too," O'Neill said. "We separated the boxes into 400 packages."

    Two hundred more packages were put together from supplies from the other Soldiers.

    "The supplies were donated from a lot of people back in the States; different organizations, different groups, families, and the chaplain from 252nd, Chaplain Vaughn Benner," Angeli said. "We just did one big collective school drop."

    Angeli said the combined operation was aimed to help reinforce the community bond between the Iraqi Security Forces and the local citizens, an important step in strengthening the future of Iraq as U.S. forces prepare to leave.

    "It allows us to leave a smaller footprint," Angeli said. "It shows the local populous the ISF is taking a more active role in supporting the community."

    After all the school supplies had been handed out, the U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers stood together for photos with a group of the school children. The children clapped and cheered and the rest of the students rushed across the courtyard to join the crowd. An Iraqi federal policeman grabbed O'Neill's hand and held it in the air, smiling and cheering with the students.

    "It was my best day in Iraq," O'Neill said.

    "I'm glad it went off as such a great success," Angeli said.



    Date Taken: 12.09.2009
    Date Posted: 12.11.2009 05:25
    Story ID: 42596
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

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