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People Top 5
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- December 08, 2003
- Vol. 60
- No. 23
GI Paul Gonzalez Brings School Supplies to Iraqi Kids
And how. In just over two months, Anne, 56, and her husband, Rene, 62, a retired judge, have rallied supporters from Alaska to Texas to collect $18,000 worth of school supplies—pencils, crayons, notebooks—that their son plans to deliver directly to Altun Kopri's 2,800 schoolchildren, with the first shipment due to arrive within days. While elsewhere in Iraq U.S. soldiers combat terrorists, Gonzalez and his 173rd Airborne Brigade comrades are greeted in Altun Kopri by children yelling, "I love you!" Mayor Abdul Mutalib Najmaddin says the same children used to hide when members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party walked by. "He has solved so many problems," Najmaddin says of Gonzalez, 25.
No one has been more overwhelmed by the grassroots success of Operation Golden Bridge—the town's name, in translation—than Gonzalez. "We came to Iraq because our country asked us to do something," he says. "Since we've arrived, it's become more personal."
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