Northern Iraqi Refugee Relief

Help us send two forty-foot ocean container loads of humanitarian supplies to the Christian and Yazidi refugees now finding refuge in the Northern Iraqi City of Erbil, by donating items to Operation Give.

For many of you who followed Paul’s blog back in 2010 and 2011, while he was deployed to Camp Marez/ Camp Diamond on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, you might recall all of his blog posts relating to the two Iraqi Sheikhs he worked closely with; who lived in the Nineveh province in Northern Iraq. Together they took humanitarian supplies to many schools, hospitals and poor neighborhoods throughout the Ninevah province, working side by side helping the Christians in Qaraqosh ( Al Hamdaniya) and Alqosh, the Yazidies from the Mt. Sinjar area, and poor Muslims (Sunni and Shiite alike) throughout the Nineveh plains. You might recall they set up street lights surrounding the city of Hamdaniya to protect the Christians living there from outside would be intruders and attackers. You might remember they set up a soccer league for the kids in the two Sheikh’s village of Nemrud and had a championship game out in what was a corn field. They also gave out many micro-loans for Iraqis of any religion to start up small businesses throughout the area.

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Due to the savagery of ISIS (ISIL) all of that has been destroyed. All that they tried to do to help those people is lost; except for the memories that now exist in their hearts and minds. All of the Christians and Yazidies in the area have either been murdered or have fled to Erbil; protected now only by the Kurdish Peshmerga militia; forced to leave everything they owned behind and their cities now all but deserted. Thousands upon thousands have been slaughtered.

The news articles below should shed some light on the current conditions

READ THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE

 

Limited FedEx Opportunity

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May is National Military Appreciation Month designated by Congress. In order to show our appreciation,

Operation Give would like to provide you with an opportunity to show your appreciation through “OPERATION TROOP SUPPORT

We would like to provide you a way to reach out and build a bridge to all those on active duty in all branches of the services, to the National Guard/Reserves, to retirees, to veterans, and to their families—a total
of well over 90 million Americans and more than 230 years of military history— More importantly to build a bridge and provide you a conduit to show your support for our Troops that are away from home serving this great nation abroad.

Operation Troop Support, is one program that provides opportunities for all of us to participate in the bridge building process.

• We send care packages year around to troops deployed throughout
the world in order to express the thanks of caring citizens. These care packages are full of wonderful much needed items, donated by every day citizens throughout the United States. During the Christmas Season these care packages take on the shape of Christmas Stockings full of all kinds of personal hygiene items, books, CD’s and other Christmas goodies.

• We provide special items for military families holding down the fort at home, who have special needs. At times these can be special items needed on a case by case basis, or items that perhaps all children would enjoy any time.

• We send boxes of humanitarian supplies directly to service men and women so they may also be involved
in the giving process; as they build bridges to the people in the countries they are serving. These are in the shape of school supplies, dental hygiene kits, new born baby kits, soccer balls and soccer gear, shoes, blankets/quilts, tools, etc.

• We provide care packages to brighten up the lives of our aging veterans in nursing homes.

THINGS OUR MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN NEED:

• CD’s/DVD’s

• Video Games, Chess, Checkers, Dominos, Yo-yos, Playing Cards

• Hand sanitizers, Deodorant, Shoe deodorizers, Foot powder for Athlete’s foot, shoe inserts

• Wet wipes, Body & Face Lotions, Body & Face soaps, Eye Drops, feminine hygiene products

• Shampoo / Conditioner, body wash,

• Bug spray, Shaving Cream, Disposable razors, Sunscreen, Lip balm

• Small flashlights, Small multi-tools, Clip on Lights, fingernail clippers

• AT&T Calling cards, tiny personal fans, Pen/Mechanical pencils

• SD Cards/Thumb Drives, iTune Cards, gift certificates

• Toothbrush & paste, Dental floss, Individual pkg. of tissue, disinfectant wipes

• Protein Powder mixes

• Reading Books, paperback books, American flags,

• GPS watch, compass

• Nerf footballs, Frisbees, soccer balls,

• Healthy Snacks, vitamins, cold medicine

• Non-perishable-food items—Cookies, Candies, Gum, Granola bars, beef jerky, crackers, Cheesewhiz, peanut butter, powdered drinks, Gatorade powder, etc. 

The Last Leg of the Christmas Stocking’s Journey

 

 

Operation Christmas Stocking


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Chief Santa

Just as planned and like clockwork, all of the pallets of Christmas Stockings had already cleared customs and were waiting for delivery on Dec. 22. The USO had taken care of all those details and had already positioned the boxes of stockings in front of each and every barracks. This was a nice change from last years stocking event and it later proved to be one of the key elements that made for a much smoother event.
When I arrived around 5pm on Monday the 22nd a large crowd of volunteers had already gathered at the USO building on base. As my wife and I entered the USO we were warmly greeted by Michelle, the USO project manager, and a two-man team of reporters from American Forces Network, AFN, (who were to be my shadow for the evening). They were quick to hook me up with a mic for a last minute interview, prior to heading out the door for the evening.
Over 100 volunteers were busy eating hotdogs and chili (provided by the Red Cross) and getting organized into their assigned teams in preparation for the nights distribution activities. Michelle took a moment to address the group, making mention of my presence and to express thanks and gratitude to Operation Give for sending all of the Christmas stockings.
The air was filled with a special spirit of Christmas cheer, as the crowd dawned their Santa hats and discussed how excited they were to be able to take part in this event. With their bellies full of chili and all bundled up to embrace the cold air of the winter evening, they piled into their cars and proceeded to their assigned barracks.
With us in the reporters van, we also headed out to capture the activities of the various groups; hoping to also take part in the distribution effort. Prior to this evening, I was quite concerned about how I was going to get the footage needed to send back to the states,; so I am sure you can imagine how relieved I was to see AFN was going to be covering my activities for the evening. The fact is, this was the first year that reporters from AFN had covered the event.
With my two reporter buddies in tow, we jumped into action at the first barracks, grabbing several boxes of stockings and proceeded to knock on each and every door, hoping to find soldiers at home for the evening. With only a few exceptions (some soldiers were just not at home), each door opened and to the surprise of a soldier or two, we captured their expressions of gratitude for the surprise Christmas gift. Catching them off guard, it was totally unexpected for them to receive a Christmas Stocking and of course to be filmed by AFN at the same time.
We had a ball spreading the true spirit of Christmas, which of course got all of us into the giving mood. As the night drew to a close, I remembered some smaller barracks on base that might have been forgotten. So with several boxes of stockings we headed over to the other side of the base to an area not familiar to most people. In the darkness of the night and in an area dimly lit, we knocked on the doors of several smaller one-level structures, where 3 or 4 soldiers were living. This proved to be the best decision we made all night.

Chief Santa

Behind one of the doors stood a small female soldier, who greeted us with such joy and excitement. She exclaimed she was having a bad day and was missing her husband and her three children back in the states. Our timely visit and small gift brightened up her evening and changed her mood for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Another female soldier explained that she had a terribly difficult day at work and was somewhat down and depressed, but seeing us and receiving a Christmas Stocking turned that all around. She expressed her heart-felt gratitude and appreciation for the thoughtfulness of those who prepared the stockings back home. She stated that the stocking had a huge impact on her spirit for the Christmas, instantly changing her mood. She siad it was nice to be remembered by those back in the states during the holidays.
It was a great night for all; both for the givers and the receivers. The spirit of the evening was contagious for the camera crew as well, who actually in the end became givers, as they passed out stockings to others on their team of soldier reporters.
A great time was had by all.
Chief Wiggles
“doing it the wiggles way”

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Operation Christmas Stocking

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Our Purpose

More often then not, our purpose in life has something to do with serving others and finding ways to give back or pay it forward to others.

That is what it is all about and we at Operation Give can provide you a way to do that.

I have been recently touched by the lyrics of a song sung my David Archuletta called “Glorious”, that nails it on the head.
You can hear the song by clicking on this link, or read the lyrics below.

There are times when you might feel aimless
And can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It’s been there within you all along
And when you’re near it you can almost hear it.
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
[Verse 2:]
And you will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It’s so amazing, what we’re all creating
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
[Bridge:]
And as you feel the notes build
You will see
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious

Don’t forget to Give back or to Give it forward to others this Christmas season.

__________________________

Packages can be shipped to:
Operation Give
c/o Mesa Moving & Storage
2275 South 900 West, Dock 49
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119

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Donation-can

Donate to Operation
Give Via PayPal

Contact for donations:
Elaine 435-512-4956
Elaine@operationgive.org
or Chief Wiggles at
wigglesholton@yahoo.com

Operation Give’s Christmas:

Christmas Stocking Video With my head still spinning from our most recent miraculous humanitarian relief mission to the Island Kingdom of Tonga, I have been on a whirlwind tour through New Zealand, Los Angeles, back home to Salt Lake City, Utah and now if you can believe it back living in South Korea. In the course of all this traveling and without the cover of white snow to get me in the spirit of the season, I haven’t been able to focus much on Christmas. But, the one thing each year that gets me in the giving spirit is Operation Christmas Stocking.
Fortunately, during my time at home I was able to take part in a stocking-stuffing event at the Mesa Moving and Storage warehouse with a great group of about 30 people from the Utah State Health Department. It was a wonderful event, full of Christmas spirit and plenty of great items to stuff into the almost 1,000 stockings we prepared for shipment overseas to our troops. This brought our total for 2014 to over 5,000 Christmas stockings that have been either sent into us or stuffed at the warehouse.

With a winter chill in the air, Christmas music playing in the background and free food from Papa Johns and Jimmy Johns as motivation, each of our Christmas do-gooders cheerfully grabbed an empty Christmas stocking and proceeded down the line of tables grabbing items to stuff in the stockings. You could tell they were all thinking about how each item would be received on the other end by a soldier away from home. They each made their selection from piles of items and obviously put their own amount of TLC into each stocking.

About halfway through the event I took a moment to sincerely thank each of them for their kind efforts and to express my own feelings about what it is like to receive a Christmas stocking while deployed to a far off land during Christmas. As I thought about my own experience during the Christmas of 2003 in Baghdad and with tears in my eyes I tried to explain the deeper significance of the Christmas stocking and the message it sends to a soldier that he hasn’t been forgotten. During this busy Christmas season, I truly appreciated their service and sacrifice to help make Operation Christmas Stocking possible. What better way to spend this Christmas time then to be in the service of our fellow citizens who are serving our great nation.

9pallots plusI was extremely grateful that I was there to take part in this event and especially thankful I was able to share this moment with my wife and two sons, who, with their families, took part also. All of our spirits were high and the air was full of laughter, as we joyfully stuffed as many stockings as we could and prepared the pallets of stockings for shipment overseas.

A few days later FedEx picked up a total of 12 pallets of Christmas stockings, each pallet weighing in at around 1100 pounds. To our joy and excitement, within the following week we received word that the stockings had arrived at their destination and were clearing customs. We appreciate the Utah based Goldman Sachs group who not only took part in their own stocking stuffing event, but also donated most of the money needed to pay for the shipment, which FedEx took care of at a much discounted rate.
The great thing about this year’s Operation Christmas Stocking is that I will not only be able to take part in the front end of stuffing the stockings but also in the backend of actually delivering some of the stockings in person to individual soldiers here in South Korea. We were able to ship a certain amount of the stockings to the USO here in South Korea, for delivery to a small percentage of the 28,000 plus service men and women serving here.
With the help of the USO and the Red Cross, we are scheduled to go out tomorrow on Monday the 22nd of December to deliver the stockings to all the soldiers living in the barracks here on the Yongsan base. The USO has helped us with the distribution of the stockings to the soldiers for the past 3 years, this year being the 4th year of their participation. We thank all of their volunteers for their efforts to help make this all possible. (I will be taking a lot of video and photos of the event, so stay tuned for that later this week).

In the course of my busy life, with all the other things I have going on, it is this type of event that helps bring me back to what is important in life and reminds me of my true path towards happiness. It is only when we are in the service of our fellow men that we truly start to see the bigger picture of what life is and should be all about.

P1070119Many great people have stated the following,

“Emerson said that every great institution is but the lengthened shadow of a great person. The power is in us, in each of us – the power to do significant acts of service on our own initiative if we will become anxiously engaged.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Chinese Proverb

In the bible we read,
“If any man will come after me [He said], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25; see also Matthew 10:39).

Lately as I continue to evaluate the purpose of my own existence, I continue to think back on how Operation Give began and what its purpose was and currently is. The purpose of Operation Give first and foremost is to provide an opportunity for soldiers and others to serve their fellow men; to provide the needed supplies and resources necessary to serve the needs of others. As with Operation Christmas Stocking, we provide people on the front end an opportunity to serve through donating items and to participate in events and on the backend we provide people an opportunity to serve as they donate their time and efforts in distributing items to individual soldiers.

In the course of life, as each one of us try to figure out what we are supposed to be doing while on this earth, we all have those times, if even for a moment, when we discover something we know we were supposed to be doing and usually it has something to do with serving someone else. There is a plan for each of us and we all have a purpose that needs to be accomplished, it is just a matter of figuring that out.

Merry Christmas

Chief Wiggles
“Doing it the Wiggles way”

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A Vision for the Future Written on a Napkin

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It all came about at a McDonalds, several months ago, during a planning meeting of all the key people at Operation Give. For many months previous to this meeting, due to the large number of home projects I have been working on, I had not been able to meet up with Elaine, Steve, my son Michael and Rob (out web guy). But once we were all able to be in the same room together (even at a McDonalds), (actually for the first time since my return from South Korea), our combined synergy became the catalyst or stimulus for a lot of fresh ideas for Operation Give. There was a free flowing stream of consciousness that brought about a sequence of ideas, one good idea leading to another even better idea.
Operation Tonga had been in the works for many months prior to our McDonald’s rendezvous. For months the local LDS Tongan church community from Salt Lake City and Provo City had been building wooden crates over at our Mesa Moving and Storage warehouse and collecting much needed food items (wheat, rice, flour, sugar, cooking oil, etc) that were stacked up on pallets throughout the warehouse. Operation Give arranged for the items to be stored at Mesa Systems, had offered to help arrange for the shipping of the crates and agreed to provide 3 forty-foot containers of additional humanitarian supplies (school supplies, clothes, shoes, hygiene kits, new born baby kits, etc) for the people of Tonga. But, that is as far as our thought process had gone.
With some burgers, fries and drinks laid out before us, Rob – Jaden (I was finally able to meet up with Rob Ratliff (our website guy) and his son Jaden (photographer) for the first time) – Elaine – Steve and my son Michael all seated around the table, the stage was set for some powerful things to transpire. As the meeting began we started to discuss the usual every day items that needed addressing but soon after Rob mentioned in passing that he had been on location in Tennessee filming a Civil War reenactment, it was as if simultaneously a light went on in all of our heads, (actually I think my son Michael connected the dots first, but anyway).
Collectively we thought, “Why don’t we go to Tonga along with a film crew so that we can be on the ground when the containers arrive, take part in the distribution of all the humanitarian supplies we are shipping and make a documentary of the whole thing, from start to finish?” Over the past 11 years of Operation Give’s history we had never really professionally documented the whole process from one end to another; from collecting the donations to actually participating in the distribution. Now of course I have been on both ends; having participated in the entire process and have been on the ground to assist in the distribution of supplies in Iraq and South Korea, but never had I recorded the whole thing for posterity.
What a great idea we collectively agreed and how cool would that be to actually be able to show in video and photos the entire thing from one end to another? What if we could create a documentary of Operation Tonga; to show all those who have participated and donated so much how we actually helped the people of the island of Ha’apai (one of the islands of Tonga hit by the devastating cyclone)? What if we could record and show everyone how Operation Tonga was a complete success and how we accomplished all our goals? And moreover, what if we could have many more such humanitarian relief trips to other needy countries around the world; providing many more additional opportunities for people to serve?
Over the years as we have sent humanitarian supplies to over 17 different countries around the world, it has always been a challenge to get video or even photos of the items actually getting to the intended people in need. We don’t always get proof that the goods have been distributed to those that need them most. Now in most cases we have sent the items to deployed soldiers or other trusted humanitarian/church groups, so we know the items were delivered but it is always better to be able to show everyone how the whole thing went down.
Without a whole lot of discussion right there in McDonalds we wrote up a plan on a napkin for my wife and I to go to Tonga along the Rob and his film crew of two others. The plan was put into motion that day and we all ended up in Tonga a few weeks later; all part of Operation Tonga the humanitarian relief mission to provide supplies and aid to the people on the island of Ha’apai. And guess what we are working on the documentary of the entire project from start to finish, which will show everyone how the whole thing happened and hopefully inspire other to want to get involved.
Our new vision for Operation Give will definitely take us to the next level and will provide many more opportunities for people to serve; whether on this end or on the receiving end, wherever we go around the world. Operation Give is all about people volunteering to serve other people, as all of us on the team are currently doing. Losing ourselves in the service of others and providing those who desire, in many cases the military or their families, an opportunity to serve and be served. It is our goal to provide the opportunities and the resources needed to serve our military men and women and to provide them and their families an opportunity to participate in this service. This is a great way forward, one we are really excited about.
In the end we were all, including Paul and Ginger Diamond, able to go to Tonga and had an incredible journey; accomplishing much and of course documented the entire project from beginning to end and took over a terabyte of footage and photos recording the distribution of humanitarian supplies to the people of the Tongan island of Ha’apai.
I will write more later about our trip to Tonga, so stay tuned in.
Chief Wiggles
“Doing it the Wiggles way”

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Operation Give’s Christmas

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With my head still spinning from our most recent miraculous humanitarian relief mission to the Island Kingdom of Tonga, I have been on a whirlwind tour through New Zealand, Los Angeles, back home to Salt Lake City, Utah and now if you can believe it back living in South Korea. In the course of all this traveling and without the cover of white snow to get me in the spirit of the season, I haven’t been able to focus much on Christmas. But, the one thing each year that gets me in the giving spirit is Operation Christmas Stocking.

Fortunately, during my time at home I was able to take part in a stocking-stuffing event at the Mesa Systems warehouse with a great group of about 30 people from the Utah State Health Department. It was a wonderful event, full of Christmas spirit and plenty of great items to stuff into the almost 1,000 stockings we prepared for shipment overseas to our troops. This brought our total for 2014 to over 5,000 Christmas stockings that have been either sent into us or stuffed at the warehouse.

With a winter chill in the air, Christmas music playing in the background and free food from Papa Johns and Jimmy Johns as motivation, each of our Christmas do-gooders cheerfully grabbed an empty Christmas stocking and proceeded down the line of tables grabbing items to stuff in the stockings. You could tell they were all thinking about how each item would be received on the other end by a soldier away from home. They each made their selection from piles of items and obviously put their own amount of TLC into each stocking.

About halfway through the event I took a moment to sincerely thank each of them for their kind efforts and to express my own feelings about what it is like to receive a Christmas stocking while deployed to a far off land during Christmas. As I thought about my own experience during the Christmas of 2003 in Baghdad and with tears in my eyes I tried to explain the deeper significance of the Christmas stocking and the message it sends to a soldier that he hasn’t been forgotten. During this busy Christmas season, I truly appreciated their service and sacrifice to help make Operation Christmas Stocking possible. What better way to spend this Christmas time then to be in the service of our fellow citizens who are serving our great nation.

I was extremely grateful that I was there to take part in this event and especially thankful I was able to share this moment with my wife and two sons, who, with their families, took part also. All of our spirits were high and the air was full of laughter, as we joyfully stuffed as many stockings as we could and prepared the pallets of stockings for shipment overseas.

A few days later FedEx picked up a total of 12 pallets of Christmas stockings, each pallet weighing in at around 1100 pounds. To our joy and excitement, within the following week we received word that the stockings had arrived at their destination and were clearing customs. We appreciate the Utah based Goldman Sachs group who not only took part in their own stocking stuffing event, but also donated most of the money needed to pay for the shipment, which FedEx took care of at a much discounted rate.

The great thing about this year’s Operation Christmas Stocking is that I will not only be able to take part in the front end of stuffing the stockings but also in the backend of actually delivering some of the stockings in person to individual soldiers here in South Korea. We were able to ship a certain amount of the stockings to the USO here in South Korea, for delivery to a small percentage of the 28,000 plus service men and women serving here.

With the help of the USO and the Red Cross, we are scheduled to go out tomorrow on Monday the 22nd of December to deliver the stockings to all the soldiers living in the barracks here on the Yongsan base. The USO has helped us with the distribution of the stockings to the soldiers for the past 3 years, this year being the 4th year of their participation. We thank all of their volunteers for their efforts to help make this all possible. (I will be taking a lot of video and photos of the event, so stay tuned for that later this week).

In the course of my busy life, with all the other things I have going on, it is this type of event that helps bring me back to what is important in life and reminds me of my true path towards happiness. It is only when we are in the service of our fellow men that we truly start to see the bigger picture of what life is and should be all about.

Many great people have stated the following,

“Emerson said that every great institution is but the lengthened shadow of a great person. The power is in us, in each of us – the power to do significant acts of service on our own initiative if we will become anxiously engaged.”
Gordon B. Hinckley
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Chinese Proverb
In the bible we read,
“If any man will come after me [He said], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25; see also Matthew 10:39).

Lately as I continue to evaluate the purpose of my own existence, I continue to think back on how Operation Give began and what its purpose was and currently is. The purpose of Operation Give first and foremost is to provide an opportunity for soldiers and others to serve their fellow men; to provide the needed supplies and resources necessary to serve the needs of others. As with Operation Christmas Stocking, we provide people on the front end an opportunity to serve through donating items and to participate in events and on the backend we provide people an opportunity to serve as they donate their time and efforts in distributing items to individual soldiers.
In the course of life, as each one of us try to figure out what we are supposed to be doing while on this earth, we all have those times, if even for a moment, when we discover something we know we were supposed to be doing and usually it has something to do with serving someone else. There is a plan for each of us and we all have a purpose that needs to be accomplished, it is just a matter of figuring that out.

I have been recently touched by the lyrics of a song sung my David Archuletta called “Glorious”, that nails it on the head.
You can hear the song by clicking on this link, or read the lyrics below.

There are times when you might feel aimless
And can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It’s been there within you all along
And when you’re near it you can almost hear it.
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
[Verse 2:]
And you will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It’s so amazing, what we’re all creating
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
[Bridge:]
And as you feel the notes build
You will see
[Chorus:]
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious

More often then not, our purpose in life has something to do with serving others and finding ways to give back or pay it forward to others.

That is what it is all about and we at Operation Give can provide you a way to do that.
Don’t forget to Give back or to Give it forward to others this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas

Chief Wiggles
“Doing it the Wiggles way”

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Dashed Hopes of Iraqi People!

Dashed hopes of the Iraqi people:
Why did we leave them so unsecured and unprotected?
As disturbing news reports continue to flow out of Iraq, regarding the current situation there, I can’t help but remember the faces of all the people I met and worked with on my last deployment. Flashbacks of all the wonderful times and miraculous events there fill my head, as I think of how encouraged we were for their future. With our efforts to build community, establish small businesses, provide training/education, and maintain security, there was a real feeling of hope for a brighter future for Iraq and it’s people.
After many years of fighting, hundreds of lives lost and countless hours working to build a new democratic Iraq, for the first time we, as American soldiers, started to see the positive results of our efforts and sacrifices. I for one, after three deployments there, started to believe again that just maybe it was all worth it. There was hope and you could see it in the people’s eyes.
But, since our complete withdrawal from Iraq this has all but been dashed by the rise of Sunni extremist militants, referred to as ISIS (or DA’ASH, as it is called by many Iraqis), who filled the vacuum left by our departure. The Sunni extremists, ousted by the Iran backed Shiite government, began their own fight to set up an Islamic State, the caliphate, in the northern part of Iraq and western Syria. The insurgents have taken control of the city of Mosul, the vary city I lived in for almost one year and are fighting against Iraqi forces and Peshmerga Kurdish forces on all fronts. And as it is with most conflicts the innocent civilians end up suffering the most.
I continue to receive disturbing emails from close friends in the surrounding areas of ongoing pain and suffering. Friends from the religious minorities in al-Hamdaniya, such as the Christians, the Chaldo-Assyrians, the Yazidis, and the Shabaks, who have all been attacked, systematically killed, displaced, and threatened by the Sunni extremists.
Two of my closest friends the Sheikhs, ( as I referred to them), who I worked with on many community events, were targeted by the ISIS and forced to flee their homes with their families and move deeper within the more secure Kurdish territory near Irbil. I later received reports that their homes were bombed and destroyed, along with everything else they owned.
I received this email from an Iraqi General I worked closely with in Mosul,
“Come back to Iraq to repair the largest possible number of bad things that happened after the liberation of Iraq, and the Iraqi government who receives it’s orders from Iran … there are armed ISIS militias killing people and destroying homes and imprisoning citizens without any crime ..
There has been considerable havoc in the country and U.S. are the cause of your troops … who opened the way for Iran and the ISIS militias to enter and destroy Iraq … is not the liberation of Iraq , but Iraq has been destroyed …..
Most of the former army officers, doctors, engineers and scientists have all escaped out of Iraq, because they are afraid for themselves.
Yet continue daily operations of the assassination by al-Qaeda and ISIS Da’ash…”

As the fighting rages on and more and more innocent civilians suffer and die, one can’t help but think about what we could have done or should have done differently to prevent this terrible tragedy from happening.
Many questions need to be answered.
Knowing the long-lasting historical tension and conflict that exists between the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds, why didn’t’ we force the Iraqi government to be equally split between the three groups, so each group could have proper representation? Why didn’t we leave a security force in place to maintain peace and the status quo? Why did we leave them so unsecured and unprotected? Surely, we thought this would happen didn’t we? We can’t lose everything we gained, after all our efforts and all the lives lost, can we? Surely our smart people in Washington thought of all of this right? What are we going to do now? How much of what we gained will now be lost? How much collateral damage will there be before we do something to stop it?

Chief Wiggles

Enter Our Song and Video Contest

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It began with a Toy:

Over eleven years ago, while stationed in Iraq, I, Chief Wiggles, gave my first toy to a small crying child at the gate of the Green Zone.

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That was the humble beginnings of Operation Give and as they say the rest is history. We have since that day shipped over 140 forty-foot ocean container loads of toys and other items to children in over 17 different countries. We have continued to focus on giving items to US Soldiers in war-torn countries, who in turn have done exactly as I did that one day, spread love and understanding through the giving of toys to children (and of course shoes, balls, dolls, schools supplies, clothes and other supplies).

Operation Give recently received a video from Brettany L Bailey, who, with her students at the Three Chopt Elementary School, expressed their support for our troops through words, songs / video and pictures.

Click the button below to find out more about Operation Joys With Toys.

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 Operation Give Wants to Begin A:

Support the Troops Video and Song Writing Contest.

Join in by writing a song and making a video for the troops in Afghanistan. Use the Song and Video with photos of the Project that you selected to do, such as Toys, Soccer Balls, Care Packages, etc.  Gather them up and send them free of charge to Operation Give, so we in turn can send them to our soldiers, airmen, seamen and marines serving our country in Afghanistan.

We are willing to give out a $100 I-Tunes gift card for the best song and video.  Contest ends end of Aug.

Select videos will be posted on our Facebook and Blog.

We welcome all your songs, videos and of course toys.

Thanks,

Chief Wiggles

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They want to make sure the troops know they have not been forgotten.

Check out this link:    https://vimeo.com/96251435

Children Supporting TroopsMore importantly they were sending toys to Operation Give for the troops in Afghanistan, so our men and women serving our country will have things to give the children they come in contact with.

Through these toys our troops will be able to build bridges of love and compassion; spanning cultural differences and language barriers.

 

 

Operation GiveMesa Moving & Storage

2275 S 900 W Dock 49

Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Or Call:

435-512-4956

Email: elaine@operationgive.org

Time to Get Busy

 

Time to Get Busy:

With the monsoon season right around the corner we have sped up our plans for additional humanitarian events during the month of June. It isn’t that we can’t go out during the hot and humid rainy days during the months of July and August, it is just that it is too hot and humid, intermittent with frequent down pours that makes things a little more difficult for both the giver and the receiver. Little by little we have been distributing the humanitarian supplies that arrived in our last container a few months back; with events here and there are as our busy schedules have permitted.

At times we pray for rain; given the terrible air quality that exists here in Seoul. The air is quiet a cocktail of yellow sand and pollution from China, exhaust fumes from millions of cars and buses, manufacturing exhaust from near by factories, with a chaser of 20 million people putting out whatever that many people can expel.  It is only after a good rain that we feel like taking in a good big breath of fresh air.

As our good fortune would have it, we (my wife and I) have finally hooked up with Mr. Moon to get all the contents of the container distributed to the right needy people.  My wife and I have known him for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that all of us decided to join forces. He was kind enough to handle the customs clearing and final movement of the container’s contents from Incheon harbor to one of his warehouses in Seoul. And being the like-minded individual he is, Mr. Moon has handled all the details in setting up the humanitarian events at different locations around the country.

The Baby Box:

The first one this month was at the Baby Box Orphanage, as I call it. For those of you who have been following my blog you might recall I have written about the “Baby Box” orphanage on two previous occasions. Here is a link if you would like to read more about this; http://youtu.be/p3Te5Mh1EtI

Mr. Moon hadn’t been to the Baby Box orphanage previously, but was interested in donating items after hearing about this orphanage on Korean TV. For good or bad, there has been a certain amount of publicity over the past couple of years both domestically and internationally regarding the Baby Box and the concept behind its creation.

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Loaded with some 25 boxes of medical supplies, blankets, clothes, shoes, newborn baby kits and stuffed animals, we made our way through the congested streets of Seoul, Korea following the promptings of the GPS system in our car. Even after having visited the orphanage on previous occasions, I am still not able to find this place without some help.

Located in the middle of a very steep and narrow street, the orphanage appears to be no more than a house in a very crowded neighborhood of homes. It is only once you arrive at the front of the home that you notice the sign out front and the cross on the roof. The home functions as the founder’s private residence, a church (the founder is a minister) and an orphanage. The actual “baby box” is on the exterior wall of the home; you can access down the narrow alley in between the home and the neighboring house.

Due to the position of the house and the steepness of the hill, the only way to enter the three-story home above a narrow garage is up a very steep flight of stairs (which definitely wouldn’t meet building codes anywhere). It is these actual flights of stairs in and outside the home that prevent the orphanage from being registered as a legitimate facility for handicapped children. Even so the minister continues to keep his doors open and continues to accept unwanted handicapped infants.

We were greeted by one of his dedicated workers; who came out to meet us once we pulled up out front in our two vehicles loaded to the gills with supplies. Unfortunately, the minister had been called away and unavailable to meet with us.

With space at a premium at this overcrowded home, we unloaded all the boxes we had brought, placing them in a covered area to the side of the house. To their joy and excitement several other workers appeared from inside the home to assist us in moving the boxes. They were all very excited to see what we had brought the children.

Carrying a couple of the boxes with us, we entered the home and proceeded to show them a sampling of the items we had brought. With excited in their eyes several of the children assisted in opening and taking out the items one by one, of course as any child would went straight for the crayons spilling them all over the floor (All in good fun of course).

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In that this was Mr. Moon’s first trip, I made sure that he was given a proper tour of the facility to include the Minister’s own son, now 28 years old, who has not been able to move since birth. It was his own son’s condition at birth that propelled him into setting up the baby box for unwanted children. To date he has taken in over 80 unwanted newborn babies, most of which he has been forced to subsequently turn them over to the state, but he still maintains about 20 children at his home full time.

It is always very difficult for me to not be affected emotionally when visiting the Baby Box orphanage. These children really pull on your heartstrings with their tender looks and simple desire for love and affection. We were all very glad to be able to provide the supplies we did, knowing they would all come in handy in the days to come.

Learning to Read and Write for the first time:

Right on schedule Mr. Moon pulled up to the front of our high-rise apartment complex to pick my wife and I up for our next humanitarian event or adventure. As usual everything was set up and prepared ahead of time and all we had to do was show up. I love it when a plan comes together and all the heavy lifting has been done by others before hand (just kidding).

We were headed to a humanitarian center in one of the smaller suburbs of Seoul for an event that proved to be quite unexpectedly touching and thought provoking. I had been told somewhat ahead of time what we were doing, but perhaps it hadn’t really sunk in. I guess the whole concept was so beyond my imagination that I really didn’t give it much thought.

After about 50 minutes of weaving in and out of the traffic of the city, we arrived in front of a large, what appeared to be, office building complex and from the looks of things it seemed to be relatively new. But, once I entered the complex I realized it was a large community center with programs of all types for all ages of people.

Several individuals were there to greet us and guide us into the director’s conference room, where she was waiting. With a warm hello and a hardy handshake the director motioned for us to have a seat. She obviously spoke English and informed us that she received her PHD from a University in Alabama, even so we continued for the remainder of the visit speaking in Korean.

She made us aware of the nature of the facility, touching on a number of the programs they offer for different age groups, but focused mainly on the program we were there to take part in. After a few minutes of pleasantries we proceeded upstairs to a large room where a sizable group of mostly elderly women had gathered. On our way upstairs she paused in front of the welcome sign for Mr. Moon’s organization and Operation Give, mentioning that we would have time to take pictures in front of this sign later on our way out.

To my surprise this was the graduation ceremony for some 200 elderly individuals, 60 plus years and older, who had just completed a course teaching them how to read and write Korean for the first time. For some reason these individuals, due to a variety of circumstances, had not been able to attend school when they were young. They had lived all these years not knowing how to read and write their own language.

Now you might not think much of this, but given how important education is to most Koreans and given how advanced their education program is; it is hard to imagine that these people have just been lost in the system all these years. Most of them grew up during the years following the Korean War and most likely, due to financial circumstances, were forced to stay home rather than attending school. For one reason or another, except for one sole male, all of the students were women.

I could sense the excitement in the air as we went through the graduation program. In traditional Korean formal fashion, ever thing going according to the planned schedule, with every “t” crossed and “I” dotted. As we moved into the awards portion of the program, Mr. Moon and I were called upon to assist in passing out the awards to the distinguished graduates. It was quite an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in acknowledging their accomplishments.

With the items we brought we were able to pass out a school kit bag to every student and even had extras for the next class of individuals desiring to learn how to read. Like school kids at lunchtime, they were each so excited to receive their bag full of school supplies. It was as if they were finally able to close that chapter they missed so many years ago, now able to read and write for the first time. I am sure you could say that this was on their bucket list and had been for a long time.

At the end of the program I was asked to stand up and speak to the group for a few minutes. At first they were totally surprised by the fact that I could speak Korean, the director having prepared for an interpreter to be on hand if necessary. Along with the other things I mentioned to them, I made a point of indicating that now, having learned how to read and write, the path ahead for them to continue studying has been prepared for them. We all made a commitment to continue with our studies for many years to come.

A large banner hung at the back of the stage thanking Operation Give for our support in providing each of the students a school kit supply bag.  Well-done Operation Give. Thanks for making this possible.

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Thanks,

Chief Wiggles

“Doing it the wiggles way”

Smiles at Seoul Station

Smiles at Seoul Station:

 

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With the cold chill of winter well behind us and all the flowers and trees of South Korea in full bloom, I once again am motivated to begin again with the distribution of our latest container load of humanitarian supplies. For me spring always brings a new beginning and a renewed vigor to resume my work of helping those in need. Even though it has only been a couple of months since our last event, it seems to me like I have been out of commission for some time. With our second largest simulation training exercise in February and March, it seems like I have been extremely business since the new year began, just now able to catch my breath long enough to begin anew with our efforts to distribute the contents of the container we worked so hard to get through customs and moved over to a warehouse new by.

Each day as I drive around the streets near my 17th story apartment I call home, I am reminded of the plight of the homeless individuals that hang out around the Seoul train station. The station is only a mile or so from my apartment and according to the experts there are some 500 individuals that live in and around the area. Just down from the station, not even a block away, is a humble church set up in an old crowded 4-story building, that serves as a shelter for some 300 homeless individuals.

For some time I have been speaking with Bobby, a like-minded friend of mine, about what we might do to help these people. We have discussed different ideas and options; just have not taken the time to actually formulate a plan. So with supplies ready to move in our temporary warehouse, I just decided to pick a day and make a delivery.

A week or so ago, I dropped by the church to speak with the young minister that runs the shelter to discuss my idea and to decide on a date. He was more than willing to oblige and we selected the following Sunday (which was last week Sunday) as the best time, right after Sunday service at 1430 (2:30 for you non-military types).

I spoke with my good friend and cohort, Mr. Moon, who owns the warehouse space we are using, and gained his support for the activity. Sunday finally came and as planned Mr. Moon showed up with his caravan of three vehicles full of friends and family members who volunteered to help us make the deliver. Counting mine, with my wife and I, we had four vehicles full of boxes of supplies selected specifically for the homeless, mostly men, who frequent the Seoul station church.

As if connected by some invisible chain, down the streets of Seoul we traveled weaving in and out of traffic, as we headed to the church to make the delivery. Pulling up front our team of volunteers went into action, pulling out all of the boxes of humanitarian supplies. One by one, at the direction of the Minister, we carried the boxes some going up stairs and others downstairs, as we separated the items between what we were going to pass out that day and those that we going to be left in storage until needed.

As my wife and I walked in off the street into the main floor of the building, the minister was just wrapping up his Sunday service. The room was his temporary chapel, that afterwards quickly re-transformed into a waiting room for some 50 homeless to sit and rest their weary bones. The minister’s office was just to the right as you walked in; which looked more like a DJ’s sound box, surrounded by see-through Plexiglas. There he had set up a small folding table, one chair, and several small screens that enabled him to see what was going on in all the other rooms of the building.

As before he greeted me with a big smile and a hardy handshake, welcoming us to his humble church. He quickly set things up for us to begin passing out the 300-plus hygiene kits that had been lovely prepared by Rose Ann and her group back home and carefully packed in the container by Elaine and the other Operation Give team members. Each kit contained a bar or two of soap, a small hand towel, toothpaste and toothbrush and other personal hygiene items.

One by one the 300 or so homeless men walked down the stairs and passed our team of volunteers to receive a kit. With outstretched arms and a soft thank you, each person graciously received a hygiene kit. Greeting each of them with dignity in Korean we wished them well and hoped they would make good use of the items in the kit. They were all very well mannered and well behaved, with kit in hand, as they orderly made their way back up stairs to resume their daily routine.

All the members of our team, even the children took part in the activity and enjoyed the experience of helping those in need. All involved felt the spirit of giving and witnessed the joy that even the smallest of things can bring to someone in need. The children’s parent all commented later fon how grateful they were that their children we able to take part in this event, hoping this would be a lasting memory for them.

Afterwards we all reconvened back up in one of the rooms on the third floor, around one the folding tables, over drinks and cake that the minister’s wife had set up. We discussed what we might do in the future; exploring a couple of ideas Bobby and I had come up with. I had the minister explain to our group of volunteers some of the details about the individuals who frequent the shelter and to discuss a few of the programs they offer to their visitors. We finished our meeting with a quick visit to the garden area on the roof, where some of the homeless were nurturing the squash and pepper plants.

In addition to the hygiene kits, we left a few boxes of blankets for the 50-plus homeless who sleep there every night, 5 boxes of disposable razors for those who would like to shave and a couple boxes of Crocs slippers.

With our hearts full of joy and thankfulness, filled by the spirit of giving, all made possible by our Operation Give team back in the states, we said our goodbyes and returned to our vehicles, promising to do this again soon.

“Doing it the Chief Wiggles way
Chief Wiggles

Homeless

 

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Christmas was delivered:

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Living in a land that celebrates Christmas as a day off, but has little in the way of lights and decorations indicating Christmas is near, it has been difficult for my wife and I this year to get in the Christmas spirit. It is quite cold out, but there is no snow and consequently there are no signs of snowmen, or reindeer, or sleighs. As of yet, aside from the occasional frigid northern wind, there has been no frost, or ice icicles, or any other signs of a cold winter night. And more than anything there haven’t been any children around anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus with his traditional mound of Christmas gifts all piled under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

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But that all changed once the 6,500 plus Christmas Stockings from Operation Give arrived via FedEx last Friday. It is amazing how a little Christmas giving can change your mood and your attitude and quickly bring in the Christmas cheer; as we, along with about 50 helpers from the USO, hit the pavement to deliver stockings to young single soldiers stationed here in South Korea. Divided into teams, each with our building assignments, we packed up the boxed stockings into our cars to begin the final leg of Operation Christmas Stocking.

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I mentioned to my wife that it really didn’t feel like Christmas until we started passing out the Christmas Stockings and then the smiles on the faces changed that.

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From origins all over the US, to the Operation Give consolidation Warehouse in Salt Lake City, to the FedEx planes and trucks, to a USO warehouse in South Korea and many to a warehouse in Afghanistan, the stockings have been on quite a journey. Now on their final mile, the boxes and boxes of wonderful Christmas stockings were now ready to be placed into the gracious and appreciative outstretched hands of a US soldier, airmen, or marine.

Stockings being readied for shipment to our Troops in Afghanistan

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It is really a fantastic experience to be on the receiving end and to be able to participate in the actual hand off of the stockings to an unsuspecting service man or women. They are in awe, so surprised and so appreciative of the thoughtfulness of so many American people who have helped to make this possible. One soldier put it into words as he was trying to explain what had just happened to one of his fellow soldiers, as he stated, “ I was so shocked to have received a Christmas Stocking from back home, delivered by a CW5”.

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Another soldier stated, “Thanks again for what you do.  It’s fine Americans like you and your organization that really makes it easier for us to get through this time of year.

 

Door by door and room by room, with as many stockings as we could carry, our little group went through our assigned barracks, knocking on doors and passing out Christmas Stockings to as many soldiers as we could find. For some soldiers who were obviously still at work, we placed sufficient stockings by their door in hopes they would receive them when they return.

Starting that Friday and every day since, right up to Christmas day, we have been passing out stockings to soldiers in barracks and offices, to soldiers manning their posts, to gate guards and to security personnel, to military police, and to soldiers in the hospital. Even to those military personnel in my own high-rise living off post and to soldiers in other bases around Korea, we have been able to successfully distribute perhaps 6,500 stuffed Christmas Stockings.

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Wishing all a Merry Christmas and spreading glad tidings of good cheer, we have helped bring a slice of Christmas to all those serving our nation far from home during this Christmas Season.

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My personal thanks go out to all of you who helped make this year’s Operation Christmas stocking a huge success. What started some 8 years ago continues on as so many great Americans back home continue to support this effort. Let me just say that the stockings we really amazing this year; with such great stuff and so many items jammed into the stockings (many were literally bursting at the seams).

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One email specifically that touched my heart, really exemplifies what this is all about as she stated,

 

“Dear Paul,

     It’s my pleasure to donate to such a worthy cause.  My donation is on behalf of my niece Elizabeth, a sophomore in high school.  She asked for the family to donate to good causes (yours was one she chose) instead of buying her presents this year.  She has a great heart.

Merry Christmas!

Karen”

 

Dear Operation Give,

“I would just like to thank you all for the amazing stocking that my husband received from you all in S. Korea.  It was so thoughtful of you all to think of the soldiers overseas away from their families at the holiday’s.  We really do appreciate the support and the gesture.  Just wanted you all to know how much the soldiers appreciated being thought of this time of year.

Thanks again…Lynne Blake”

 

God bless you all and a very happy Merry Christmas.

Check out the photos of our activities.

 

Chief Wiggles

Chief Santa

 

“Doing it the Wiggles Way”

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You can still be part of Operation Christmas Stocking:

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As Christmas nears and we approach the most joyous and for many of us the most sacred time of the year, it is easy for all of us to get caught up in the fever of shopping, buying gifts for our loved ones and friends, and making all the necessary preparations to make for the perfect Christmas.  We become lost in our thoughts for those around us and in all the Christmas events that will be transpiring. We offer up friendly greetings and wish each other a Merry Christmas and customarily express a feeling of “Peace on Earth, good will to men.”

 

But how often do we think of our men and women who once again, for the tenth Christmas in a row, will be spending the holidays in foreign battlefields or deployed in far away lands where peace on earth and good will to men are just trite sayings not relevant thoughts for the reality of life in a war zone. Our nation continues to be at war and we still have tens of thousands of our heroes stationed in bases all over the world, who will be spending yet another Christmas in harm’s way, far from home, far from their loved ones. And what of their loved ones, the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, husbands or wives who will spend yet another lonely Christmas remembering, praying, and crying for their service men and women?

 

Many might ponder for a moment the plight of those serving our nation in foreign lands and maybe offer up some touching words, well-meant but over used sayings that express their most sincere admiration, gratitude, sorrow and well wishes for our troops. But these moments of sincere reflection and thoughts for our troops are fleeting at best and short lived as the hectic nature of the season consumes us all.

 

I am sure many of you have asked yourself, “What can I do that would really make difference to those men and women serving in the military?”,  “How do I reach out to them to let them know they haven’t been forgotten?”.  The opportunity for each of you asking these questions to find an answer is given through Operation Give, in Operation Christmas Stocking.

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There Is A Way:

 

For the eighth year in a row, all of us at Operation Give have been able, through Operation Christmas Stocking, to share a slice of Christmas with thousands of our Brothers and Sisters serving in the military, in Iraq, Afghanistan and even in South Korea, where I am currently serving.

 

Due to the generosity of thousands of like minded Americans, who have donated stockings and/or have donated items to be stuffed in stockings, every year thousands of service men and women have felt the joy of receiving a Christmas Stocking, full of Christmas goodies and much needed personal items. We at Operation Give and all of the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, and Airmen on the receiving end, deeply appreciate all of the wonderful donations that have helped make Operation Christmas Stocking such an amazing success.

 

As in years past, this year is no different, with thousands of Christmas stockings already on their way to Afghanistan and South Korea, once again our service men and women, away from home during Christmas, will soon experience the joy a Christmas Stocking can give. With the help of our military and the USO, thousands of Christmas Stockings will be individually delivered and the true meaning of Christmas will be expressed. For the past 4 years, I have personally been on the receiving end and have taken part in the distribution of these Christmas Stockings in Iraq and in South Korea and have witnessed first hand the joy and gratitude expressed by those receiving these stockings.

 

And it is not too late for you too to be part of Operation Christmas Stocking and participate in someway in expressing your gratitude for their service and to let them know they have not been forgotten. You can do more than offer up empty words, you can be part of Operation Christmas Stocking, by donating much needed funds to help ship all of the stockings over to our troops or to donate additional items to be stuffed in more stockings.

 

Please act today by contacting Elaine Ward at Operation Give, operationgive.org, or by calling her at 435 512 4956.

 

It has been said, author unknown, that:

The greatest gift of all is the ‘giving of oneself.’ In giving, the donor receives so much in return: the beauty and grace of seeing a smile on the recipient’s face; the warmth of knowing that somebody has benefited from your generosity; the satisfaction that the world is a little better place from your giving.

I hope you are able to enjoy the beauty of this day with your loved ones. While many of us are truly blessed to be home with family today, let us also remember our brothers and sisters who are far away fighting to protect our freedom and liberties. “THANK YOU.”

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Stocking were Delivered!

Stocking were Delivered!

 

Take the time to read this Christmas Tale from long ago,

 

A Christmas Tale — 1919, The Wall Street Journal, December 2008

By HANS VON SPAKOVSKY

It’s easy to complain in the midst of a stressful holiday season. But my family has a unique remedy: We remember one special Christmas in 1919 that gave us the freedom and liberty we enjoy today. This will be the 89th anniversary of the year my father celebrated Christmas Eve deep in the snow-laden woods of Russia as he fled the Communist takeover of his homeland.

When I tell people that my father was an officer in the White Army who fought the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war, they usually look at me with disbelief, because I am only 49. But he married and started a family later in life, after he lived through both world wars.

He had been an officer in the Russian Army in World War I; after the Bolshevik putsch he ended up fighting against them in the far north of Russia. In 1919 he was close to the Arctic Circle in the port city of Arkhangelsk, where at the beginning of the year, six feet of snow fell and the temperature was regularly 30 degrees below zero.

The Allies — the English, Americans and French — had put military forces in Russia, including in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, in 1918. When they withdrew in September 1919, the White Army forces faced dire peril: Their source of supplies, including arms, was gone. Many regular soldiers deserted en masse to the Bolsheviks.

As the situation deteriorated, my father and his unit were surrounded. They fought until very few supplies remained. By December, their commander told them that they would soon be unable to continue to fight and that the Bolsheviks had promised that surrendering White forces would be freed and sent home.

But my father knew that the communists shot the officers they captured. The only way he could escape was through the frozen White Sea on the lone icebreaker in the port, which was not large enough to evacuate everyone. Only a small number of high-ranking White Russian officers eventually fled that way.

One woman and 16 men, including my father, decided they would try to get out another way. In the middle of a very snowy night, they skied through the Bolshevik lines toward Finland. As my father later told his five children, it was an arduous and long journey. They had so little food that at one point they were reduced to eating the beeswax candles they carried with them.

They soon ceased to count the days. Time became amorphous as they traveled through the chilling cold of an Arctic winter in the darkness of the deep woods. Their singular goal was to avoid Bolshevik patrols.

On one of those timeless, dark days, my father said, the woman in their group reminded the men of something they had all lost track of — tomorrow would be Christmas Eve.

The next day they skied ’til the beams of the sun turned the treetops golden and the shadows in the forest became longer and longer. They stopped in a small glade for the night, and my father cut down a small fir. They placed some of their remaining candles on its branches and adorned it with blue ribbons cut from a blouse the woman had carried in her knapsack.

With the dark veil of night covering them, they lit the candles and their small pine became a Christmas tree. The scene seemed almost mystical to my father — 17 human beings sitting in the glow of a makeshift Christmas tree in the thicket of a primeval forest. They forgot about the frost of the northern wintry night, their exhaustion, and their anxiety about the future.

No more hatred remained in their hearts, my father told us — only love for God and men alike, friends and enemies. They said a prayer, sang some Christmas hymns, and then sat silently, thinking about what they had lost and were leaving behind, including their families. (My father never saw his mother or his father again.) The candles burned out, and it became dark again around them. (LD’s highlight)

The next day they resumed their journey. Once Christmas had passed, and they did not encounter any Bolshevik patrols, my father felt they had been saved. Two weeks later, they arrived safely in Finland. They had skied hundreds of kilometers through the wilderness in the dead of winter.

My father died in 1988, just short of his 93rd birthday. There is a lot more to his story — great drama, more danger, and adventures that he always said were better to recall as memories than to have lived through. He eventually immigrated to the United States with my mother, whom he met in 1946 in a refugee camp in occupied Germany.

So this Christmas, besides opening presents and singing carols, my family will observe one other tradition. We will drink a toast and give thanks to a man who fled a murderous, cruel dictatorship and gave us a gift more precious than anything else: the chance to grow up in freedom and to enjoy the liberty that is our birthright as Americans. Merry Christmas!

A Soldier’s Christmas Poem: Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. Printed in Leatherneck (The Magazines for the Marines) in December 1991.

 

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I’d Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn’t Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
“Santa Don’t Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don’t Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn’t Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night’s Chill.

I Didn’t Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, “Carry On Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, All Is Secure.”

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
“Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night.”

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Operation Christmas Stocking

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This is Paul Holton, better known to many as Chief Wiggles, the founder and President of a Utah based non-profit organization called Operation Give (operationgive.org). Back in 2003, while serving in the military in Iraq, out of the blue and totally unsolicited I received a huge Christmas present from a group of my co-workers back home. When I opened the box, to my total surprise there was a beautiful Christmas tree with all the decorations, carefully wrapped Christmas presents and Christmas stockings stuffed to the brim; enough for everyone in my office at Saddam’s palace in Baghdad.

To this day I will always remember the joy we all received on Christmas day as we opened the presents and went through the items in the stockings. We were thrilled beyond words as we contemplated their thoughtfulness. It was as if someone had delivered a slice of home to each and every one of us, all away from family and loved ones during that Christmas season. Through that simple act of kindness we all knew we had not been forgotten.

Ever since that day I have been determined to replicate that experience for others serving our country in far off – war-torn lands during Christmas. For the past 8 years, Operation Christmas Stocking as been able to send 5,000 to 10,000 amazing stuffed Christmas stockings to men and women serving in the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea.

Operation Christmas Stocking is going strong this year too; with people here in Utah and all over the United States sending in stuffed Christmas Stockings and/or a variety of items to be used as stocking stuffers. Our Operation Give volunteers will be at the warehouse many evenings this month stuffing stockings, right up until we have to ship them overseas.

But, we need your help. We are in desperate need of additional items to help make these stockings the best stockings ever. We are frequently running out of items the service men and women would enjoy, but we think your products would be just the ticket.   We currently need Healthy Snacks and Nuts.  We also need personal care items, and entertainment items.  Actually any items that you would think the Troops would like would be perfect!  You could bring these items to the Friday Stocking Stuffer Event or they could be dropped off earlier.

I would greatly appreciate your kind and generous donation of items that could be stuffed in Christmas Stockings for our troops. Please let us know what amount of items you would like to contribute to this great cause and coordinate their pickup or delivery with Elaine Ward at 435 512 4956 or Paul Diamond at   ­­­­­­­_801-897-6543.

Our warehouse is located at Mesa Moving & Storage 2275 S 900 W Dock 49 Salt Lake City, UT 84119

 

 

Sincerely,

Paul Holton

President

Operation Give

 

Christmas Stockings being received by Chief Wiggles and thousands of  Troops away from Home at Christmas!

Christmas Stockings being received by Chief Wiggles and thousands of Troops away from Home at Christmas!

 

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Operation Christmas Stocking 2013

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The true meaning of Christmas is love for our fellow men and showing that love through small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. Are you starting to see the picture now?

For the past 8 years Operation Christmas Stocking has shipped off thousands and thousands of stuffed filled-to-the-brim Christmas stockings to our fellow citizens serving in the armed forces, away from family and loved ones during Christmas.

Please spread the word and get others to help and participate in this great cause. There are still tens of thousands of service men and women that will be alone during Christmas, stationed around the globe, misDSCN0164sing all the things that remind them of their own family traditions back home.

We need your help; your Christmas stockings, items to stuff into stockings and your time at the warehouse stuffing stockings. Remember Christmas is not about you; it is about others and showing others how much you sincerely appreciate and love them. Don’t miss the opportunity to show our troops that we haven’t forgotten them on this the Christmas of 2013.downloadPDF

This is your chance to catch the wave of glad tidings and good cheer to be sent in the shape of a ChDSCN0187ristmas stockings overseas to those protecting our freedoms, living in harms way.
Thanks,
Chief Wiggles

Please do what you can and then do more, you will be blessed for it.

Link to OperationGive.org
Please visit our website for more information.

Orphanage visit

“As time has permitted over the last few weekends, with a little help from our friends, we have been able to venture out to some new areas beyond the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea. Without a whole lot of prior planning and armed only with our smiles and a few helping hands, we have created opportunities to reach out to those in need and to have a rewarding experience for us and those receiving our help.

In our quest for those groups that are in the greatest need or for those groups that have been neglected or overlooked, we came across the Doong Ji Orphanage on the island of Daeboo Do, south west from Seoul along the western coast line about an hour and a half by car. This orphanage was originally started by a Buddhist Monk, who maintains a small humble Buddhist temple adjacent to the orphanage, which is not much bigger than a medium sized house.

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The orphanage is in an old 3 story drab cement building, surrounded by dirt on all sides. There is a total of 65 children currently living at the facility, of all ages up to age 18. Of course these are not war babies or anything of the kind. All of the children have parents at least a mother and/or father still living. The children in most cases were dropped off to the orphanage because the parents couldn’t care for them, due to some sort of difficult circumstances, either with the child or the family. All of them come from really poor families and most were dropped off because of difficult financial situations at home. Some of the children were dropped off in what they call the Baby Box, where usually unwed mothers, or women in difficult circumstances drop off the babies right after they are born. Some of the children have been dropped off supposedly temporarily, until the family conditions improve enough for the parents to take back the children, but for the most part the parents don’t return.

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We have been out to the orphanage twice now with our group of volunteers, this last time was to help in harvesting vegetables from the green house garden on the property and to prepare a good old American Hot Dog Lunch for all the children, which included a hot dog, some pineapple slices and a small package of cookies. The American hot-dogs were a really big treat for the children, who subsist mainly on a simple diet of rice, soup and a few vegetables.

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Situated out in the country on a small island and nestled up in a small valley on the side of a small hill and with no place to play, except for the rocky dirt outside surrounding the building, the children spend most of their time inside the building. They do have a small piece of property that has been cleared and flattened for what is supposed to be a playground, but without sufficient funds the barren ground sits. With the support of a church group back home, we are trying to raise money to purchase the gravel and playground equipment.

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Operation Christmas Stocking

The True Meaning of Christmas:

For the first time in over a month it finally feels like there might be an end to the record breaking temperatures

and humidity of another, what seemed to be, a very long hot summer in South Korea. The end of one month and the

beginning of another, September, seems to have also brought in what appears to be the first day of Fall, with a

noticeably different feeling in the air and even a slightly cooler breeze blowing throughout the city of Seoul.

Perhaps you might think it is too early to be thinking about Christmas but given the nature of our mission and task

at hand, we have no other choice but to mention that it is time again to launch Operation Christmas Stocking. With

memories of last year’s shipment of several thousand stockings still dancing in our heads, we clear our minds with

anticipation for yet another great year of Christmas stockings, items to be stuffed and stuffing parties at the

warehouse.

In order to bring you into the right frame of mind, I must ask the question “What is the real meaning of Christmas?

Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and

friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of “Merry Christmas” to those who pass us

in the streets? Is this really Christmas? Of course not, but it is definitely all part of what has become the

traditional celebration of Christmas and Christ’s birth. These are all part of the things we treasure and long for

each and every year. All the things that remind us of perhaps happier days when we were young and still believing in

Santa Claus; when Christmas morning brought such excitement and enthusiasm for the giver and the receiver of

Christmas gifts.

Think for a moment if you were in a place where none of those Christmas traditions existed and you were removed far

from your family and loved ones. What would Christmas be like then? Now you are beginning to understand what it is

like to be a soldier, airmen, seamen or marine; far away during the Christmas season, off in a foreign land, where no

mention or symbol of Christmas exists.

The true meaning of Christmas is love for our fellow men and showing that love through small acts of kindness and

thoughtfulness. Are you starting to see the picture now?

For the past 8 years Operation Christmas Stocking has shipped off thousands and thousands of stuffed filled-to-the-

brim Christmas stockings to our fellow citizens serving in the armed forces, away from family and loved ones during

Christmas.

Please spread the word and get others to help and participate in this great cause. There are still tens of thousands

of service men and women that will be alone during Christmas, stationed around the globe, missing all the things that

remind them of their own family traditions back home.

We need your help; your Christmas stockings, items to stuff into stockings and your time at the warehouse stuffing

stockings. Remember Christmas is not about you; it is about others and showing others how much you sincerely

appreciate and love them. Don’t miss the opportunity to show our troops that we haven’t forgotten them on this the

Christmas of 2013.

This is your chance to catch the wave of glad tidings and good cheer to be sent in the shape of a Christmas stockings

overseas to those protecting our freedoms, living in harms way.

Thanks,

Chief Wiggles

Independence Day!

Monday July 1:

Don’t forget to thank an American Soldier:

As our nation’s Independence Day, July 4th, draws near I can’t help but think about the times I have been away in foreign lands on

military deployments celebrating this most historical day. Even though my military work didn’t really stop and there were no parades

or family cookouts, I took time to reflect on the important significance of this our nation’s birthday.

 

One thing is sure; men and women serving in the military understand the deeper embedded meaning of Independence. What it means

to us as American citizens and what it means to those we are fighting for in other lands.  The words “Independence” and “Freedom”

have deep-seated meanings, defined in part by our

Soldier’s Creed:

I am an American Soldier.

I am a warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of  Freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

 

We also understand the sacrifices made by our For Fathers and by those who served in the Continental Army and the citizen soldiers of the state militia’s, to insure our Independence from tyranny and an oppressive government. We are able to live free today, because of their efforts.

We realize the necessity at times to make the ultimate sacrifice of our lives to promote and defend the cause of Freedom. We in the military have always been ready to serve our nation, as the bastion for freedom, to defend the rights of all people to be free.

As President Ronald Reagan put it,

“The miracle of life is given by One greater than ourselves, but once given, each life is ours to nurture and preserve, to foster, not only for today’s world but for a better one to come. There is no purpose more noble than for us to sustain and celebrate life in a turbulent world, and that is what we must do now. We have no higher duty, no greater cause as humans. Life and the preservation of freedom to live it in dignity is what we are on this Earth to do. Everything we work to achieve must seek that end so that some day our prime ministers, our premiers, our presidents, and our general secretaries will talk not of war and peace, but only of peace.”
Ronald Reagan, The Quest for Peace, the Cause of Freedom

Operation Give:

You might say that Operation Give was formed out of a love for other people and a desire for them to be happy and free to pursue their own destiny, with the help of other freedom loving people. We desire for all to be free to pursue individual happiness, independent from others who desire to enslave or control them.

The mission of Operation Give is to give hope to the deprived and disconnected people of the world; most often where the U.S. military is serving. We provide the much needed material humanitarian supplies and resources to the U.S. Military men and women so they in turn can distribute these items to the people they come in contact with. Operation Give gives hope to people in war-torn countries and to people suffering from natural disasters. We build bridges through giving; spanning cultural differences and language barriers, speaking the international language of love through giving.

 

Short History lesson by Wikipedia :

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.[4][5]

 

After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

 

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more

As put by a good friend of mine Jack Levine;

As we look forward to the July 4th Independence Day celebration,  let’s think for a few minutes about the words that were principally drafted by 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence – our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

 

Here, in so many unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of those gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate their yet-to-be formed nation’s sentiments for declaring their freedom from British rule.  The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and other European philosophers.

 

What Jefferson did with such clarity was to summarize this philosophy in “self-evident truths” and set forth a list of grievances against King George II in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.

 

While our nation’s Founding Fathers, fifty-six of whom signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776, are to be honored for their vision, wisdom and sacrifices, it is always appropriate, I believe, to recall certain realities of the time.  Like Jefferson himself, others in that group were slave owners, a fact that seems to contradict the heralded preamble to the document:….

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

 

This contradiction is real, but as historic events unfolded over the decades and centuries to follow, the Declaration of Independence served as a source of motivation for many important movements for justice in our nation…and many other peoples and nations worldwide…to this day.

 

The American abolitionists’ fight against slavery and the suffragists’ struggle for voting rights for women were firmly rooted in the words of the Declaration.

 

And of course the on-going movements for civil rights reforms based upon racial, disability, immigration status and other human differences all deserve and demand action to resolve….are each likewise based upon the principles of freedom, liberty and achieving a quality of life declared as unalienable by Thomas Jefferson and his co-authors.

 

Here is the text of the Declaration of Independence which I urge you to take a few minutes to read in full…  http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

 

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.