Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Day 164 - Step by Step

Several weeks ago, Wayne observed how few Iraqi children have shoes to wear. Wayne’s aunt, Janet Moore, a primary grade teacher in Monroe, LA, organized a shoe drive as a cooperative effort between her school and church.

This morning, we received an update from Janet:
“Just wanted to let you know that the shoes got mailed on Wednesday. We mailed 14 large boxes and two very small boxes. There are close to 500 pairs of shoes. The Mayronne family, our neighbors who also Jesus the Good Shepherd school and church, helped to box and ship. The boys commented on how fun it was and they wish they could see the kids’ faces when they get the shoes. Other volunteers who helped get all the boxes to the post office included the local Boy Scouts. A very patient postal worker, who has a niece in Iraq, processed all 16 boxes."
Sending boxes to military post offices can be a daunting task. In Janet’s case, after holding back enough money for postage, she went shopping with the leftover donations to purchase extra shoes from local discount stores.

“The poor clerk at Fred’s who had to take the anti-theft tags off each pair of flip flops did it with a terrific attitude,” she said, “and all the people who had to wait in line behind us at WalMart were so patient and encouraging when they found out we were sending the shoes to Iraq.”

After the group packing effort--assembling boxes, putting rubber bands around each pair of shoes, stuffing and taping--Janet and her team filled out 16 customs forms, each of which takes several minutes to complete. Once she hauled it all inside the Post Office, the postal clerk spent another 3-5 minutes on each box. And finally, Janet presented donations of $456 to cover shipping costs!

"May this bring smiles to the children and their parents and a heightened sense of good will on the part of the locals toward you," she adds. "God bless and our prayers are with you all daily."