When U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Bradley met a 9-year-old Afghan girl named Lamia, who was in need of a pair of shoes, he became inspired to make a difference.
“That little girl got me thinking about how much we have and how much (the people of Afghanistan) need,” Bradley said.
Because of his encounter with Lamia, Bradley, with his wife Jan, founded the Lamia Afghan Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing much-needed supplies for children and families in Afghanistan.
As part of the community service piece for the Mississippi State University Maroon Edition common reading program, the Bradleys were invited to come to Starkville and to meet the community and ask for help in their efforts to bring education to the children of Afghanistan.
The couple visited and lectured at Mississippi State and Armstrong Middle
School on Wednesday about the Lamia Afghan Foundation, its mission and how the students can help fulfill that mission.
“The mission of the Lamia Afghan Foundation is to work in a cooperative fashion to provide not only the basic necessities of life, but to assist and facilitate opportunities for self sufficiency through education, skills training and jobs,” Bradley stated in his presentation to Armstrong Middle School Wednesday morning.
The Bradleys have paired with the MSU Maroon Edition Service Committee, who has further reached out to Sudduth Elementary, Armstrong Middle School, and the Multicultural Lions Club, who will each host school supply drives with their organizations that will be delivered to the children of Afghanistan.
One large undertaking the Foundation is currently involved in is building a school that will teach over 600 children in Shakol Village.
The MSU Maroon Edition has committed to collecting backpacks and educational supplies for the children. Sudduth students are collecting pencils and Armstrong students are collecting boxes of 24-count Crayola crayons (other brands melt in the Afghan heat) that will be placed in each of the backpacks distributed to the Afghan children.
The crayon drive was the brainchild of eighth grade student Emoree Heiselt.
She brought her brother, sixth grade representative, Bryton Heiselt and fellow student Abigail Alford, seventh grade representative, together to host a crayon drive competition between the three grades.
“I heard General Bradley speak and knew that I had to do something,” Emoree Heiselt said.
“Even though we are young, we can still help others. And gathering crayons is an easy way to help change a child’s life.”
However, the children in Shakol Village will need more than pencils and crayons to get the most out of their education, so the Maroon Edition is asking for help from the community.
“The idea is for the entire MSU campus and our local Starkville community to work together in hosting educational supply drives to provide filled backpacks for the Lamia Afghan Foundation,” said April Heiselt, Maroon Edition Service Committee co-chair.
“We are planning a community-campus wide drive in conjunction with Bulldog Bash Weekend,” Heiselt said.
Heiselt and the Maroon Edition Committee are asking members of the community to purchase items the Foundation needs like notebook paper, blunt-end scissors, rulers, colored pencils and pens, and to bring those items to the MSU Welcome Center at the Cullis Wade Depot on Sept. 25 beginning three hours before the football game against Georgia.
Interested individuals can find a complete list of needed supplies and information about the Foundation on the Lamia Afghan Foundation website at www.lamia-afghanfoundation.org .