From our local free weekly newspaper comes a very heartwarming story of local students making a difference in the lives of their fellow students . . . in Iraq:
Give Us Hope, Northwest Middle School’s donation drive to provide Iraqi children with much-needed school supplies, was inspired by a simple request.
Last fall, Dena Adams, the school’s director of choirs, asked her son Marlin what he wanted for Christmas. Infantry staff sergeant Marlin Adams, who is serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, said he wished his mother, rather than sending him gifts, would encourage her students to help the children he saw struggling on a daily basis to grow up in a war zone.
Staff Sgt. Marlin Adams (standing) and another U.S. troop with some of the Iraqi children Adams hopes to help through Northwest Middle School's Give Us Hope donation drive.
Now, students at Northwest Middle School are reaching across the world to make a difference.
On Jan. 7, Dena Adams and Bonnie Pearson, who teaches business and marketing at the school, presented a program to explain the school’s Give Us Hope donation drive to the students. The goal of the drive is to collect enough supplies and financial support to send 500 school kits, packaged in 1-gallon zip bags, for distribution to Iraqi children. Preparations began back in September as mother and son began determining what the children needed most and what would be allowed through military security inspections. [...]
Students were transfixed by a slide show of photographs of Marlin and other Marines with Iraqi children amid backdrops of bombed-out buildings and shattered window panes. Many students wiped tears from their cheeks at the program’s end.
Dena Adams shared with the students an e-mail from Marlin that emphasized the importance of helping the Iraqi people.
“The people will gravitate towards the side that provides a higher quality of life,” Marlin wrote, noting that U.S. military forces have helped with reestablishing electricity and giving out food and blankets to the poor. “Projects like this get the people on our side. By having people on our side and denying the terrorists the ability to conduct operations, it improves security and gives the Iraqi security forces a buffer within which to grow and become more professional … The second reason that I wanted to help here is simply the fact that it’s the right thing to do.”
Also in the same edition, the writer, Alicia Cosgrove pens an editorial for more background and some additional information:
I first met Marlin Adams in 2004, while interviewing him and his mother for an article about his return from his second tour in Iraq. To say I was impressed is a major understatement. Even then, this earnest, caring young man was talking about the effects of war on the children he’d seen.
While discussing his unit’s accomplishments involving reopening schools and bringing in teachers for Iraqi children, he said: “We’re giving the kids an actual chance, instead of just existing in the world.”
Giving children a chance is what the Give Us Hope donation drive is all about. (See article on Page 1.) Before writing the article, I e-mailed Marlin a list of questions about his inspiration for asking his mom to get Northwest Middle School kids involved in helping Iraqi kids. I don’t have the space to print all of his eloquent reply, so I’ve chosen what I think is the heart of his motivation.
“If the school supplies that we provide can be the difference between a kid that gets an education and benefits his society and a kid that doesn’t and slips through the cracks, we owe it as Americans to help them.”
Part of Marlin’s message explained the goal of counterinsurgency operations, but most of it had to do with giving kids a chance.
There's much more in both articles, and you should read them both fully.
Thank you Marlin for your service and your heart. Thank you Dena for faithfully carrying out this mission here at home to impact lives all the way around the world. And thank you Alicia for bringing this story to us.