East Texas Soldier Helps Afghanistan Children - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/6/05-Tyler

East Texas Soldier Helps Afghanistan Children

American soldiers have boots to protect their feet from Afghanistan's hot and rocky soil, but many Afghan children walk on hot dirt everyday without shoes, all because they cannot afford them. One East Texas soldier who served in Afghanistan decided to do something about it.

When Chris Gill returned home to Tyler from Afghanistan everyone wanted to know how hot it was.

"It got to 140 degrees this summer," said Chris Gill who served 5 months in Afghanistan. "I've never felt something that hot before in my life." As the hot sun beats down, many Afghan children are without shoes, or proper clothing.

"There's probably about thirteen miles of paved roads in Afghanistan," said Gill. "That's it. The rest of it is just dirt, rocks and the kids that don't have shoes they're walking on that." Gill says the average income for an Afghan family is about $300.00 a year.

"They get up in the morning, look around, go to work, do whatever they have to do, so they can get money to eat that day, and that's the way it is," said Gill. "They live day by day." After seeing this, Gill decided to help and start his own mission. When he was in Afghanistan he called a Dallas radio station asking for people to send shoes and clothing for the Afghan children. The response was overwhelming.

"The next thing I knew I was getting ten to fifteen boxes a day of clothes, shoes, candy, just everything," said Gill. "Stuffed animals they love. I got a bunch of pictures of them with stuffed animals. They just drag them around." By helping the Afghan children, Gill says the generosity also helps our troops.

"We're helping us out because they trust us and they will give us information," said Gill. Gill says he's helped hundreds of children, but it's the children who have helped him appreciate what he has back home. Gill is home on a medical leave, but says soldiers are still collecting donations for Afghanistan children. If you'd like to donate shoes go to our homepage and click on the "Know More on 7" link on the left side of the homepage. Then click on the "Help For Afghan Children" link.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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