Operation Iraqi Children
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Operation International Children (formerly Operation Iraqi Children) was a charitable program created in 2004 to send school supplies to Iraqi children. In March 2004, actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) and author Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,Seabiscuit: An American Legend) announced the launch of Operation Iraqi Children, a program that will enable Americans to send School Supply Kits to Iraqi children. OIC is a program administered by People to People International (PTPI), an NGO with a U.S., not-for-profit [501(c)(3)] tax rating. The executive committee consists of Sinise, Hillenbrand and PTPI's President and CEO, Mary Jean Eisenhower.
OIC first expanded its outreach program to children in Afghanistan, and children in the United States who were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina. Since, OIC has expanded its reach to children in need around the world, including the Philippines, Panama, Haiti, Djibouti, and the list grows.
In recognition of their efforts, OIC was voted "Best Bridge Builder" of 2006 by Reader's Digest Magazine and has received an official letter of endorsement from the White House. Supplies are distributed by U.S. and allied military forces.
"I have seen Iraqi kids climbing on our soldiers and hugging them and kissing them," remembers Sinise, who accompanied Army soldiers to a dilapidated school they were rebuilding. "I have seen their smiling faces and their attempts to say 'I love you' in broken English. The folks I saw had hope in their eyes and gratitude in their hearts for what was done for them."
Twice, OIC has been represented in meetings with President George W. Bush.
OIC delivered over 300,000 School Supply Kits to needy children around the world - in addition to books, toys and sports equipment.
It closed in 2013.