In less than a week, an American Legion blog site raised more than $50,000 to help U.S. soldiers forced to destroy their camp and possessions during a deadly Oct. 3 enemy attack in Afghanistan. Now the Target Corporation has announced it will match that fundraising effort with $50,000 of its own. In addition, Connecticut-based Computer Sciences Corp. has donated 56 laptop computers to replace the ones destroyed in Afghanistan.
The Combat Outpost Keating Relief Fund sprang to life on The American Legion's Burn Pit blog site after one of the 56 surviving troops wrote in an e-mail that he believed no one at home had any idea what they were doing there, and that no one cared.
"The American Legion, Target and all who contributed to the COP Keating Relief Fund have shown these brave soldiers that we do, indeed, care," American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill said. "The relief fund contributions will help replace such things as digital cameras, video games, DVDs, books, memory cards, music players and other personal items that give soldiers a break from the intensity of the war."
On Oct. 24, members of The American Legion will visit a Target store near Fort Carson, Colo., and purchase many of the items that will be shipped to Afghanistan. Members of Fort Carson's Family Readiness Group will also join the "packing party" at American Legion Post 209 in Colorado Springs. Similar shopping and packing events are planned for Minneapolis on Oct. 27 and Fairfax, Va., on Oct. 29. Target volunteers will help assemble the packages in Fairfax.
"For years, Target has donated funds and volunteer hours to local and national veterans' and military organizations," said Laysha Ward, Target's president for community relations. "It is our hope that our contribution, along with other generous donors' gifts, will show our thanks to the soldiers of COP Keating, who are sacrificing so much for our country."
The October attack by Taliban-allied militants in the rugged Nuristan province of Afghanistan claimed the lives of eight American soldiers from Bravo Troop 3-61 Cavalry out of Fort Carson. The troops were forced to call in an artillery strike on their own position to destroy the camp before it was overrun.
"Within a month of losing everything other than the clothes on their backs, these soldiers will have replacement items from home and a realization that they are not forgotten at war," Hill said. "It is our duty as a nation to stand by those who go in harm's way on our nation's behalf. Visitors of the Burn Pit , Target and Legionnaires across the country understand the importance of that duty."