KABUL, Afghanistan – A small group of 1st Theater Sustainment Command Soldiers and other servicemembers stationed at the New Kabul Compound have banded together to support the Kabul Orphanage Outreach project.

The group reaches out to Family and friends back home asking for donated candy, clothes, toys, hygiene items, blankets and school supplies for the children of Kabul.  The servicemembers collect, sort and deliver the donated items. The first delivery was made to the orphanage in November 2012.

There are six orphanages spread across the city of Kabul and the group adopted one that houses nearly 260 boys and girls, ages 4 to 18. Despite the massive infusion of international aid in the past decade, Afghanistan’s living standards continue to rank among the lowest in the world.

According to the Hope for Afghan Children website, one in seven children is an orphan and a recent ABC News report mentioned that there are an estimated two million orphans in Afghanistan.

Still, care packages marked for these orphanages continue to pour into the NKC. During last year’s holiday season, 1st Lt. Emory Erickson, 1st TSC, randomly picked and opened a Christmas card signed by Grandma Hugs, Bubbles and Tobi (short for Tough Old Bird) of the War and Peace Quilters club based out of Kansas. The card also contained a small yellow swatch of knitting that Erickson held and looked at quizzically. Touched by their thoughtfulness, Erickson emailed his appreciation to these ladies. Within a few days, the ladies wrote back and asked if they could mail Valentine cards to the troops. Erickson responded appreciatively and also informed the quilting group on the needs of the Kabul orphanage. He received an immediate enthusiastic response and within weeks received boxes of needed items for the orphans. The quilters or “GALs” (gently-aged ladies, ages 60-94) have adopted this orphanage and are now fast at work on quilts for the children.

“Blankets are one of the most desperately needed items for these kids, especially in winter,” said Erickson. “When I open a box from the War and Peace Quilters and find another hand-made quilt, and I think about the time, money, energy and effort that went into it – it’s just incredible.”

So far the GALs have made and sent 16 quilts and plan on providing every child at the orphanage with one.

Despite hectic schedules, the servicemembers said they plan to visit the orphanage, deliver care packages, build friendships and make life a little better for these children.

For more information about the project, contact 1st Lt. Emory Erickson at emory.j.erickson@afghan.swa.army.mil