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Council Bluffs high school students collect gifts for displaced children in Afghanistan

Posted at 9:41 AM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 10:41:33-05

Students at Abraham Lincoln High School are partnering with girls thousands of miles away to lift the spirits of children who are in displacement camps in Afghanistan. 

With the help of their community, students collected more than 400 stuffed animals, books, games, blankets and school supplies for the kids. 

Irina Karmanova is the Public Affairs Officer, in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Public Engagement. Karmanova strives to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the public about the value of diplomacy, and it's impact on American lives. 

Karmanova spoke candidly with the Abraham Lincoln students about their efforts to encourage the children living in displacement camps. She said she was honored to talk with the students. 

"You meet somebody from India, you end up just being best friends for the week," Karmanova said. 

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Burns is the founder of the Karadah Project. Burns connected the class with Karmanova so she could share the importance of diplomatic relationships. 

Burns spearheaded the humanitarian supply drive. 

In 2016, Burns help set up a partnership between Council Bluffs and Afghanistan, now students in the Talented and Gifted program are working with students at the Hatefi Girls High School in Herat, Afghanistan, to provide the gifts for Afghani children. 

"There's not a lot of hope in these camps so we're doing vocational skills training programs with women in these camps," Burns said. "We thought it'd nice to be able to get some toys to these kids who are very disadvantaged from the very beginning."

"We have almost 400 [stuffed animals] my goal was 50," Freshman Kaitlyn Redding said. "It makes me feel so good that people responded in such a positive way."

Redding says she hopes the gifts give the children a reason to smile. 

"It could like brighten their day, [and] make them feel better," Redding said. "I can't even imagine how they feel like if I think that my problems are bad, I can't even imagine what they're going through seeing the stuff that's going on the news."

Talented and Gifted program instructor Sarah Steinmetz says the project has taught students about the world around them. 

"This real world learning experience has been awesome for these kids to be able to see what's happening in the world besides on the news but actually be a part of it," Steinmetz said. "And to be able to help other people, just the joy of learning and putting a smile on their face is what matters the most."

The students will be collecting the humanitarian items until December 15. If you'd like to make a donation, contact Sarah Steinmetz at 712-328-6481.