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Secretary of State

SOS > Media Center >  Press Releases > 2008 Press Releases > For Immediate Release: December 23, 2008 Indiana Secretary of State’s Office Collects and Donates Toys for Afghan Children

Contact: Jim Gavin
317-233-8655
Media@sos.in.gov

Program developed after suggestion from Hoosier doctor serving in Afghanistan

** See the pictures here

(Indianapolis) – Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita and his staff are spreading holiday cheer halfway across the globe – to children in war-torn Afghanistan. The office has been collecting toys for Afghan children during this holiday season and is shipping them to American armed forces serving in Afghanistan to distribute.

While on his Department of Defense-sponsored trip to Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, in October, Secretary Rokita met Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Willy, a Navy doctor from Kokomo, Indiana. Lt. Cmdr. Willy told Secretary Rokita that the best way his office could assist servicemembers during the holidays would be to donate toys that troops can distribute to Afghan children while on humanitarian missions in the local Afghan communities.

"Many of the Afghan children we encounter, even in the capital city of Kabul, have no toys, and maybe have never even seen manufactured toys" said Lt. Cmdr. Willy. "I have witnessed hospitalized Afghan children frightened of stuffed animals when they are first presented to them. But the children are obviously delighted once they discover the toys are for play. And there is nothing more fun for U.S. troops here than to provide just a bit of happiness to the children."

So far, Secretary Rokita and his staff have already shipped more than 20 pounds of stuffed animals, yo-yos and other small toys to Camp Eggers, in Kabul, Afghanistan. A second larger shipment will be sent this week.

"The fact our troops would rather we send them gifts they can give others, and not keep for themselves, shows the compassion and character of our service men and women," said Secretary Rokita. "It is comforting to witness the generosity and selflessness of the people that protect our country. We cannot thank our military members enough for their service and sacrifices."

Secretary Rokita was one of five secretaries of state invited by the Department of Defense to travel into Iraq and Afghanistan to inspect the military absentee ballot process and meet with troops and military voting representatives prior to November's General Election. The delegation also visited wounded soldiers at Landstuhl Air Force Base in Germany, the military casualty hospital that serves as the primary medical evacuation destination for U.S. troops participating in Iraq and Afghanistan military operations. During the holidays last year, Secretary Rokita and his office collected thousands of pre-paid phone cards for wounded soldiers recuperating at Landstuhl.

Media Contact: Jim Gavin: 317.233.8655 or media@sos.in.gov.

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