Operation Iraqi Children No longer limited to Iraq, this organization assists troops who want to ensure local school children have the educational supplies they need. Founded by actor Gary Sinise and author Laura Hillenbrand, Operation Iraqi Children sends supply kits with school items and other necessities overseas for U.S. troops to distribute. The goal is to bring together U.S. personnel and the citizenry of other countries to foster understanding and goodwill. The program also helped victims of Hurricane Katrina by shipping school supply kits for distribution in hard-hit areas. A typical kit contains one pair of blunt-end scissors, one 12-inch ruler with metric markings, 12 new pencils with erasers, one small pencil sharpener, one large eraser, one box of colored pencils (crayons melt in the Iraqi summer heat), one package of notebook paper, one composition book, three folders with inside pockets and one zippered pencil bag. Contributors who would like to pack their own kits should place the items into a two-gallon zipper seal plastic bag. Operation Iraqi Children also accepts sports equipment and stuffed animals, but balls should be deflated with a pump included so they can be inflated later. While the organization is always gathering school supplies, it also has a list of "urgent need items" such as blankets and shoes that changes based on requirements. People to People International administers the program and actively seeks volunteers to assemble kits in a warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri. More information is available online, including how to donate funds or create kits. The Web site posts a variety of information including photos, letters, endorsements and a mailing-list sign up. The programs listed on these pages are not affiliated with our publication or association. We highlight these independent efforts as a service to our military and our readers. For more information about these programs, please contact the organizations directly.