KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of coalition soldiers, including Maj. Jeff Gilmore, Task Force Centurion Police Advisory Team member and Texas National Guardsman deployed in Afghanistan, regularly volunteer for Operation Outreach, preparing fuel, food and clothing items to help the poorest in Kabul fend off Afghanistan’s tough winter and recent droughts.
On Camp Phoenix, Gilmore and others recently came together to pack up six truckloads of cold-weather provisions for delivery to families living around the coalition base.
“Today, we coordinated with an area police district so that they can pick up and deliver emergency winter supplies,” Gilmore said.
Because of the lack of a reliable heating source, most Afghans rely heavily on their ability to purchase firewood, which can be expensive, or to gather refuse materials, which can be toxic, for burning in their stoves and fire rings. The program fixes that problem by providing cleaner burning materials like fuel donuts made from compacted recyclable paper products on the camp.
Last year, the winter conditions led to the deaths of 100 people in Kabul. Task Force Centurion is not only concerned with the desperate need for cold-weather supplies, it is also concerned with connecting the local people with the government and building the police district’s capacity to solve problems in the city.
Throughout the winter, Task Force Centurion soldiers and the Afghan National Police officers, along with Operation Outreach and other aid programs, plan to distribute winter supplies in Kabul at least twice a month. Provisions will include blankets, cooking utensils and clothing.
Spc. Jasmine Allen, Texas Guardsman and chairperson for the camp’s program said, “We will continue to look for ways the unit can help. Most of the heating materials come from our soldiers or agencies on the camp. However, now that we are about halfway through winter, we will start delivering school supplies soon, she added. “If people back home want to help, they can send things like paper, pencils and chalk to us at, Operations Outreach-Afghanistan, 136th MEB, APO AE 09320.”
For more information about the program, visit website opoutreach.org.