Mission to Also Feature Tony Orlando and Other Performers Providing Entertainment for U.S. Military Personnel
FORT WORTH, Texas, April 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Children in Iraq will soon receive more than 20 tons of basic school supplies, new Crocs™ shoes and other items thanks to American Airlines and Operation Iraqi Children (OIC), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Today, volunteers from American Airlines and OIC - founded in 2004 to support U.S. soldiers' efforts to assist Iraqi children, many of whom attend severely neglected schools - will begin loading donated school supplies onto an American Airlines Boeing 767. This is the largest one-time shipment of supplies in OIC's history, with 10,000 school kits to be delivered. Adding to the cause, Crocs' SolesUnited(SM) program - a humanitarian shoe donation effort - has teamed up to provide more than 6,000 pairs of Crocs™ shoes for these children.
"American Airlines is honored to be the first U.S. passenger airline to transport this humanitarian cargo for distribution in Iraq," said Roger Frizzell, Vice President - Corporate Communications at American Airlines. "We are proud to support this extraordinary effort to help our soldiers assist Iraqi children in desperate need of shoes and basic school supplies. Most importantly, we appreciate our soldiers taking steps to build bridges with families and children in Iraq."
Founded by actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, CSI: NY) and author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend), OIC enables Americans to send school supply kits and other necessities to Iraq, which are distributed by U.S. soldiers directly to Iraqi children. OIC had its genesis during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as U.S. soldiers learned that children in Iraqi villages lacked the most basic school supplies such as pencils and writing paper. To date, the program has delivered more than 250,000 school supply kits, which typically include pencils, paper, scissors, glue and crayons. The SolesUnited(SM) donation of Crocs™ footwear will fulfill another basic need.
"From the time I first visited schools in Iraq back in 2003 to the founding with Laura Hillenbrand of Operation Iraqi Children in 2004, I never would have imagined that five years later the success of the program would lead to American Airlines airlifting over 20 tons of OIC supplies to help us continue our mission of helping soldiers to help children," said Sinise.
"Since those very early days, OIC has partnered with People to People International (PTPI) and received support from some great companies, which now, with this amazing airlift of supplies, includes American Airlines," Sinise added. "I could not be more thrilled to support this trip."
With support from the U.S. Department of Defense, American is flying approximately 75 volunteers and entertainers, including singer Tony Orlando, universally known for his anthem of hope and reunion, Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree. Entertainers joining Orlando are Vandel-Snook, the Country Tonite singers and dancers, actor Stephen Baldwin, and model/TV host Leeann Tweeden, all of whom will help distribute supplies in Iraq and entertain U.S. troops. Mary Jean Eisenhower, president and CEO of PTPI and granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will also be on the trip.
The journey, which begins at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), will load additional cargo in Kansas City, Mo., and then stop at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York to board additional entertainers and volunteers before continuing on to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. From there, the aircraft will head to Kuwait, from where the cargo, volunteers and entertainers will be airlifted to Iraq.
In addition to the OIC shipment, the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund gathered donations of snacks, supplies, books and video games for the troops serving in Iraq and soccer balls for the Iraqi children. Dedicated to carrying on the legacy of 2nd Lt. Peter Burks, who was killed in action on Nov. 14, 2007, in Iraq, the fund is managed by Burks' father, Alan, and Burks' fiancee, Missy Haddad. For more information about the fund, visit www.unsungherofund.org.
To learn more about OIC, visit www.operationiraqichildren.org.
About American Airlines
American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® airlines serve 250 cities in 40 countries with, on average, more than 3,400 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning Web site, AA.com®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve nearly 700 destinations in over 140 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, AA.com, We know why you fly and AAdvantage are registered trademarks of American Airlines, Inc.
About Operation Iraqi Children
Operation Iraqi Children (OIC) is a grassroots program founded in early 2004 by actor Gary Sinise and author Laura Hillenbrand. Sinise and Hillenbrand created OIC to give concerned Americans a way to reach out to war-stricken Iraqi children and support American troops in their efforts to assist them. The program is administered by People to People International (PTPI) and has distributed more than 250,000 School Supply Kits since its inception. PTPI, with World Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri USA, was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 11, 1956 to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. Today, as a NGO with a U.S., not-for-profit, [501 (c)(3)] tax rating, PTPI has a presence in 135 countries with more than 80,000 families and individuals actively participating in People to People International programs. Please visit www.ptpi.org for more information.
About Armed Forces Entertainment
Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment provides the best in up-and-coming American entertainment to US troops and family members stationed overseas, with priority to remote and isolated locations, ships at sea, and contingency operations. Entertainment is provided to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Armed Forces Entertainment is the single point-of-contact with the Department of Defense for providing entertainment to US military personnel serving overseas. Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead agency in providing transportation and logistical support for the United Services Organization (USO) in bringing celebrity entertainers to troops. Please visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com for more information.
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SOURCE: American Airlines