By Natalie Younts

Killeen Daily Herald

Ellison High School Junior ROTC students brought clothes, shoes and school supplies to the Copper Mountain Post Office in Killeen on Wednesday to ship to poverty-stricken Iraqi citizens.

Wanda Pope, a contracted civilian worker in Iraq, purchased the items, which cost $2,000, during her two-week mid-tour break to the United States in late April.

I just felt the need to do something while I was on vacation not for myself, but for somebody else, she said.

Pope packed the items in boxes and took what she could with her back to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, where she works as an international police liaison officer, helping to train Iraqi police.

ROTC students retrieved the remaining supplies packed in 14 boxes and two Army trunks from her garage on Friday.

On Wednesday, six specially selected students Kyandus Perry, Calila Lawrence, Gayleen Lim, Justin Miller, Dustin Mueller and Dontre Major transported the boxes to the post office.

The group was accompanied by Lt. Col. Joseph Merlo, senior Army instructor of Ellison JROTC, and Willie Pope, Wandas husband.

One by one, post office employees weighed the boxes and checked the customs paperwork that must accompany each one. Shipping charges totaled $561.

The JROTC group contributed $150, which had been raised from school barbecue sales, toward the cost.

Thats kids lunch money, Merlo said of the bag of dollar bills and coins.

Wanda Pope said the supplies being shipped, including blankets, are desperately needed in Sulaymaniyah, which is in northern Iraq and controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

It often snows in the area, yet the residents have no electricity, she said. They have no running water, bathrooms or clothing.

They live off the land, she said. Roofs are made of grass, sticks and mud.

Pope is also trying to collect playground equipment to make parks for the children, as well as sporting goods, including basketball and baseball supplies.

The children are playing in a field where there are cows and garbage, she said.

Pope said the Kurds are humble people who want a better way of life.

I cant even begin to tell you how bad off they are, she said. I cant take care of the country, but I can do my part for the people.

For more information, e-mail Wanda Pope at

Contact Natalie Younts at

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