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In Focus: Operation Good Shoes

If you're budgeting for back-to-school shopping like I am, you will more than likely be in the market for some good, sturdy shoes. Or, even if you don't have kids, you know some. And, if you know some, you know they have LOTS of outgrown shoes lying around their closets.

Wanna help give those shoes a whole new life?

I learned about Operation Good Shoes via Army Wife Toddler Mom's personal blog and she, in turn, had learned about it through MaryAnn's Soldiers' Angel blog.

You can read the background of the effort through links at my personal blog or via AWTM/MaryAnn.

Since everyone is always asking, "What can we do to help?", I keep the contact information for Operation Good Shoes handy. Even the folks at the post office were intrigued.

Mary Ann with Soldiers' Angels received the following e-mail from a contact in Mosul, LtCol Eric:

I am writing to you today because of the sad and destitute situation that the children of Mosul, Iraq find themselves in on a daily basis. After seeing these unfortunate children in the urban battlefield everyday for six months, I can assure you that their difficulties are very real and beyond the power of their parents to fix. These children, in many cases, lack some of the most basic necessities that you and I take for granted and that we would never let our own children go without. A great deal of media coverage has been devoted to the efforts of our Army today and humanitarian groups to bring comfort items like new backpacks and soccer balls to Iraqi children. This battalion has even aided those initiatives on several occasions and, although I know they enjoyed their toys, I had to watch these same five and six year old children run outside to play with their new soccer balls in the sewage and filth of the city without any shoes. I know that there is no parent among us who would ever let their children play in such an environment at all, much less without attending to their most basic clothing and sanitary needs.As I am sure you know, this war is not a war of battles won, regiments destroyed, and cities captured. Rather, this is a war fought on the "human terrain" of the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people; a war for the very soul of a nation where single gestures and one time events can be as profound and far reaching as a hundred Gettysburgs or D-Days. If we can just provide shoes for these children we stand poised to win a major victory indeed.Therefore, I am asking your help in turning this goal into a reality, and play a vital role in bringing comfort to the local Iraqi children and in striking a victory against a cold and murderous insurgency. Given the unique nature the conflict we are embroiled in, sending something as simple as shoes to local children will aid your Soldiers in this fight just as surely as a shipment of bullets or bombs. I feel I must warn you that these people will probably never know who you are, or recognize the role you played, but I can assure you that little boys and girls like the one pictured in this letter will be profoundly grateful for even the smallest bit of help from you. Please take a moment to clean out a closet or visit a shoe store and do your part for our cause. Any and all donations are welcome. Please send them to:CIVIL AFFAIRSOperation Good ShoesHHC, 2-7 Cav4BCT, 1CDFOB MarezAPO, AE 09334On behalf of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the citizens of Mosul, I thank you for any help you can provide. A single pair of shoes may not win a war, but the difference it will make to the one child who receives them just might help push us in that direction.Feel free to forward this email to any family, friend, church, classroom, or civic group who might have asked you how they can help a Soldier in Iraq. Rest assured, helping these people helps us Soldiers a great deal.LtCol Eric

My family and I boxed up 18 pairs of girls' shoes and after mailing them off, I found several more pairs we'd had in storage in our garage. They will receive a bit of TLC and then be shipped too.

My advice for prepping the shoes?

Old tennies? Into a lingerie/sweater bag or pillow case and put them through the wash. Let them air dry in the sun and you'll be amazed at how clean they will be. Also, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work wonders on the leather/rubbery part of tennis shoes.

Dress shoes, sandals, etc? Diaper wipes are ingenious cleaning helpers. Gentle, but effective. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers help with the tougher scuffs.

Remember, Lt Col Eric said any shoes are welcome. So, look through your closet and that of your spouse. I'll be you'll find a ton of shoes to send.

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