The wives of Utah National Guardsmen who have adopted two elementary schools in poor areas of Iraq are collecting funds to provide basic supplies for the students.

The Utah Army National Guard’s 115th Maintenance Company from Draper, Utah, recently adopted the two schools, which serve 540 children ages 6 to 13, said Jenny Hawthorne, who is heading up the supplies effort. Soldiers spend their spare time building desks and bookcases for the schools, but supplies are needed for their classes.

Hawthorne says she is looking for either money or actual school supplies – things like pens, pencils, paper, crayons, rulers, erasers, glue, tape, construction paper and blunt-end scissors.

“If people want to donate supplies, we’re happy to take those,” she said, “but if they’d rather make it easier and give money, we’re happy to take that, too.”

One of the adopted schools in Iraq.

The wives also hope to provide teachers with supplies such as folders, wall maps, globes, microscopes and other scientific equipment. Some of the funds might also go toward purchasing playground and sports equipment for the children.

Hawthorne said the group of wives will work on the supplies drive for the length of their husbands’ time in Iraq, approximately 10 months. However, there is a push to collect as much as possible this summer to get supplies to the kids by the time their school year begins August 20.

Members of Utah Army National Guard’s 115th Maintenance Company with Iraqi children.

“We’ve arranged for free shipping, which will take a month or a month and a half to get over there,” she explained, “so we’re making a big push to get some supplies over there to get them started.”

Hawthorne says for security reasons she doesn’t know what town the schools are in.

One of the adopted schools in Iraq.

States a flyer advertising the effort: “If we are to win the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq and the rest of the world, we must start with the next generation of children. They love the Americans over there and they feel the love that our soldiers have and give to them.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made to a not-for-profit group affiliated with the 115th.

Those wishing to help are requested to contact Jenny Hawthorne by phone at 801-556-1503 or by e-mail to obtain the address where supplies or donations can be sent.

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