Daegu schoolchildren reach out to their peers in Iraq
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The last Patricia Minkle heard, there are some Iraqi kids with school supplies she and students at Taegu American School sent to the war-ravaged country.
The thoughtfulness began with an e-mail Army Col. Donald J. Hendrix, Area IV Support Activity commander, sent in March to Principal Helen Bailey saying the Army was involved in an effort to help schoolkids in Iraq.
Bailey forwarded the e-mail to Minkle, who at that time taught first grade and now teaches fifth- and sixth-grade writing and language arts.
She had an idea. One thing Iraqi children would need are school supplies. She soon had a schoolwide donation drive going.
She posted a flier and spread word that supplies could be brought to her classroom. She asked for graphite and colored pencils, crayons, pens, markers, glue sticks, scissors.
“I tried to get them involved because I know that children love to help other children,” Minkle said.
“And when they heard there were little boys and girls just like them that needed things to do well in school, they were more than happy to go home and find a box of crayons that they don’t use or a pencil box that they haven’t used or just little things.
“They were excited to say ‘Well, I helped the students to do well in school like I’m trying to do,’” Minkle said.
She explained the idea to her own class but kept clear of grim war zone details. “There are boys and girls in Iraq that don’t have all of the things that you guys enjoy,” she recalls telling them.
“I remember one student asked me, ‘Well, why can’t their mom and dad go to the store to buy them these things?’ And I had to explain to them that these children couldn’t just go to the store and get crayons,” she said.
The supplies flowed in, a marker, a glue stick, a pencil box at a time.
“Many of my students were bringing in extra items that they had at home,” Minkle said. “Not all of it was brand new but it was in very good shape.”
By April, the donated supplies filled two big boxes, which Hendrix’s office picked up and sent to Iraq.
Later, the school got an e-mail from the Army confirming the supplies had found their way to the Iraqi schoolkids. They’ve since received photos showing a U.S. Army officer and South Korean troops on Iraq duty giving the kids the supplies, Minkle said.
“I shared them with my principal and they showed them around to the school and said, ‘This is what we did.’ It was kind of nice to see that we made a difference in somebody’s life.”