From Smithsburg to Tikrit, supplies for kids

Soldier's son organizes shipment of school supplies for Iraqi students

Soldier's son organizes shipment of school supplies for Iraqi students

October 01, 2007

Back-to-school sales have become an annual event in the United States and a source of both excitement and anticipation for the new school year.

But for one 11-year-old Smithsburg boy, it presented an opportunity to help other children half a world away.

On Sept. 4, Nathaniel Laye's vision came to life as boxes of school supplies found their way into the arms of Iraqi schoolchildren near Tikrit.

Nathaniel, the son of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Laye currently serving in Iraq, organized the collection and delivery of more than 100 pounds of school supplies to Iraqi schoolchildren.

"When I heard of the back-to-school sale for supplies, I thought it would be nice to get our church to help buy supplies for the Iraqi children," Nathaniel said in an e-mail interview with public affairs officials..


Nathaniel's father, the 25th Infantry Division Provost Marshal operations noncommissioned officer, currently is serving near Tikrit and provided the connection Nathaniel needed to get his supplies to their destination.

"I call my son every Sunday," Christopher Laye said. "He had told my mom that he wanted to send some school supplies over. I said, 'Yeah, send them over and I'll make sure they get out.'"

To help gather the supplies, Nathaniel enlisted the aid of the members of his church, Emmanuel Chapel in Smithsburg. Once the supplies were collected, Nathaniel packed them into boxes himself and, with the help of his grandmother, took them to the post office to be shipped to his father.

Nathaniel wanted to send the school supplies because he knew that there were children in Iraq who did not have access to enough school supplies and that his father would be able to distribute the supplies, Nathaniel said.

And while he said carrying the boxes to the post office was hard, he enjoyed packing all of the supplies up knowing that the children in Iraq could use them.

On Sept. 4, Nathaniel's plan came to life as schoolchildren from a small school outside Tikrit crowded around the back of a small white pickup truck eagerly taking handfuls of notebooks, crayons and other school supplies from Nathaniel's father.

"It makes you feel proud as a father because you're over here and your son decides he wants to help out in any way he can," Christopher Laye said. "Everything that any child can do helps out. Can you imagine if 1,000 kids across the country each put together 100 pounds of school supplies and had it delivered to Iraqi children?"

As for Nathaniel and his father, they have plans of their own for when Laye returns from Iraq.

"When I get back, he and I are planning on going hunting together and probably ride my motorcycle together," Laye said.

Special to The Herald-Mail from Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory, Iraq

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