From his vantage point hundreds of feet in the air, Army Chief Warrant Officer Jared Kimber always has a bird's-eye view of remote Iraqi villages — and the children trying to carry on with their childhoods in the midst of an unsettled occupation.
Kimber, a Tremonton native, flies a Black Hawk helicopter in the 82nd Medical Company, so he travels over that terrain a lot, carrying wounded American soldiers from the field to the Army hospital. On those trips, he noticed the children on the ground below had no toys to play with. Once he looked down and saw a group of children trying to play soccer with a ball that had gone flat.
So Kimber went to the Army PX and bought bags full of toys and candy, and on his next medevac mission he dropped the jump ropes, balls and Frisbees out of the Black Hawk. Now that impulse to help has mushroomed, says his mother, into a word-of-mouth campaign.
On Tuesday, Cathy Kimber mailed 60 pounds of toys and candy to her son, and there are more toys on the way.
"One woman donated part of her stuffed bear collection," Kimber said. "And a 9-year-old girl in Salt Lake City took part of her ball collection and bought some more and sent us 300 balls."
Kimber says her son drops the toys from about 50 or 100 feet, so the toys need to be able to withstand the drop. Sturdy toys include Nerf balls, tennis balls, rubber balls, stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, markers, dolls, jump ropes, Frisbees and marbles, she suggests. And, of course, candy and chewing gum.
"Help Jared's kids in Iraq," encourages a flyer being circulated throughout northern Utah.
Items can be sent directly to CWO Jared Kimber, c/o 82nd Medical Company, LSA Anaconda Balad, APO AE 09391. For more information, contact Cathy Kimber at 435-257-0352 or email@example.com.
The campaign has turned Jared Kimber into a 21st century version of the Candy Bomber, also known as Uncle Wiggly Wings. Immediately after World War II, Gail S. Halvorsen of Spanish Fork dropped candy for the children of Berlin.
More recently, Chief Warrant Officer Paul Holton, a member of the Utah National Guard, received international attention as "Chief Wiggles" after he launched a worldwide effort to help Iraqi children through his Operation Give. Holton, along with a team of civilians and military personnel in Iraq, collected and delivered toys and aid packages to Iraqi schools, orphanages, hospitals and individual families.