Springfield, IL – The U.S. Army Civil Affairs Corps has a unique role within the modern military: These elite, highly trained soldiers are sent to combat zones after the primary fighting has ceased to help rebuild war-ravaged regions. Working among the local population in seven-member teams, unprotected by other U.S. forces, they work to restore power grids and sewer lines, get hospitals and schools up and running, and bring order to devastated lands while improving relations with the local people.
As a partner of the U.S. Navy’s Project Handclasp, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach is assisting in these missions. Project Handclasp accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material overseas on a space-available basis in U.S. Navy ships. Materials are distributed directly to needy recipients by U.S. service personnel stationed in overseas areas or embarked in U.S. Navy ships which visit these areas.
A new initiative in the Hearts and Minds Campaign was established to assist women in Afghanistan in hopes of establishing trust and confidence. Until recently, US combat forces had no access to females due to cultural and religious boundaries. Having access to women and children is critical to developing a comprehensive understanding of the environment. Captain Joseph Hennessey, acting COO of the U.S. Navy’s Project Handclasp, requested Mission Outreach to fill a need for the Female Engagement Teams for hygiene kits and blankets so that the teams could distribute them to women they encountered.
Mission Outreach also recently responded to the Navy’s need for medical supplies for the earthquake in Japan. The first shipment of supplies arrived in San Diego, Calif., in April for loading on a naval vessel. Along with the in-kind donations of hygiene kit supplies, Mission Outreach designated some of the monetary donations to purchase 5,000 hand towels for a second shipment of hygiene kits. In addition, Mission Outreach included 220 pounds of medical dressing supplies and bandages. This second shipment left Springfield on May 9 and included additional requested supplies for other Project Handclasp projects including Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, and Croatia.
Under strict regulations set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and with no exceptions, a hygiene kit includes the following new items: one hand towel (15” x 25” up to 17” x 27”, no kitchen towels or micro fibers), one washcloth, one comb (large, sturdy with wide teeth, no barber/pocket size combs or picks), one nail file or fingernail clipper (no emery boards or toenail clippers), one bath-size bar of soap (3 oz. or larger in original wrapper), one toothbrush (single brushes only-in original wrapper, no child-size brushes/no multiple packs/no dentist name or phone number), one tube of toothpaste (6.4 oz. or larger/check expiration dates-must be at least one year ahead), and six adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages (regular size and wrapped in a rubber band). These items should be wrapped in the hand towel and then placed in a new, one gallon plastic zip closure bag. If the items are not the correct size, they are unusable.
If you or a group would like to put together hygiene kits to be sent overseas, please contact Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach office at 217-525-8843 or drop the kits off at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese or St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland.