A big care package from Iowa is being sealed up this afternoon that will soon brighten the lives of hundreds of residents in Afghanistan. The metal shipping container is filled with 2,000 pounds of school supplies, books, clothing and food staples like rice, flour, cooking oil and other non-perishable goods.

Sherill Whisenand, with William Penn University in West Des Moines, says the project’s been underway for months. “It all started out, we were getting coats and winter clothing because they’re up in the mountains and it’s quite chilly up there,” Whisenand says. “As spring came along in Iowa, people just took the coats off their backs and threw them in our boxes and we have them all ready to go.”

The big box is first going to the Iowa Air National Guard base in Sioux City and a cargo plane will carry it to Afghanistan in about a week. Whisenand says Iowans will have a hand in distributing the goods, too.

“With assistance from the Iowa National Guard, other military units and community people,” Whisenand says. “We have so many soldiers over there who are aware that we are sending this and they’ll be helping us get it all into the villages and into the right hands, especially the school children.” She says the shipment includes dozens and dozens of letters to the Afghan people from Iowans of all ages.

“Everybody who was donating, we asked them to write notes,” Whisenand says. “Urbandale schools had their children write notes and put them in for the school kids, but we’re the College for Working Adults and we had our own students write letters and put in self-addressed, stamped envelopes.”

Working with translators, they’re hoping the Afghan people will be able to write back and create pen pal relationships. The send-off event for the shipping container at William Penn is at 5:30 P.M.