***image1***It all started with a mass e-mail that reached Kristi Jens, a community volunteer, and soon Iraqi children and adults will be wearing clothes donated by the KMC.
“… In this village, live several men, women and children who are walking around with no shoes, socks and tattered clothing. It is so sad. I am asking that you help me with this in any way that you can,” written in a mass e-mail sent Dec. 3, 2003, by Spec. Kate Medina, assigned to C 47th Forward Support Battalion, stationed in Iraq.
Specialist Medina was hoping that the KMC could mail her the items through the Military Postal System, but postal and military regulations would not allow it.
Instead of a good idea stopping there, Mrs. Jens took up the challenge to find another way to get the “sure-to-be” KMC donations to Iraq.
“To think that I could make such a large positive impact on someone less fortunate than I by simply giving clothing and a little time, there was no way I could not try to help,” she said.
She enlisted the help of several Army and Air Force members. Her first need was finding transportation for the donations from Germany to Iraq. She asked around and was referred to Brig. Gen. Russell Frutiger, deputy chief of staff, Personnel, U.S. Army Europe, Heidelberg, who enlisted the help of Ann Bergstram, contingency operations manager, Personnel, USAREUR.
Through Mrs. Bergstram’s efforts, the Army would fly the donations from Heidelberg to Iraq. Then it was again handed back to Mrs. Jens to get the items from Kaiserslautern to Heidelberg, but she had the answer at home.
Her husband, Tech. Sgt. Dale Jens, quality assurance inspector, 86th Maintenance Group, 86th Airlift Wing, said that it would be no problem to sign out a truck from the 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron and drive the much-needed donations to Heidelberg.
“I thought it was a big job, a major undertaking,” said Sergeant Jens, “but I was very proud of her for taking it on and for doing all the organization.”
The next question was where KMC residents could leave their donations. Mrs. Jens found an Army drop-off point at the Landstuhl Chapel, and an Air Force one at the Ramstein Community Center.
Publicity went out and the KMC was asked to donate items from Feb. 16 to 23, and they sure did.
At the Ramstein Community Center, there were almost 70 bags and 25 boxes stuffed with bedding, shoes and clothing for Iraqi men, women and children.
“This is the thing I love to do the most,” she said. “People here are very giving, and it’s usually not a problem to get donations.”
That day, the items were delivered to Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg, where they will be flown to Iraq.
Now, there is a village near the Baghdad International Airport, where Iraqis will soon have shoes, socks and decent clothing because of an e-mail, Mrs. Jens’ efforts and many caring KMC residents who donated time and items.
“There are so many ways to help others. This program was just one,” said Mrs. Jens. “Whether big or small, always choose one that speaks to your soul. The commitment will be stronger, the personal reward will be greater, and the set-backs won’t seem so drastic.”