FORT PICKETT, Va. --
Task Force Pickett, alongside various nongovernmental organizations, collected over 11,000 cold weather kits that contain more than 70,000 articles of winter clothing to prepare Afghan evacuees for the upcoming winter months.
Many Afghan evacuees arrived at Fort Pickett with only the clothes on their backs. “With the temperature beginning to drop, it is essential Afghan evacuees receive proper clothing to keep everyone warm for the winter,” said Maj. Todd A. Hoyt, a logistics officer with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The cold weather gear can come from three sources, explained Hoyt. “We can procure it, get it through nongovernmental organization donations, or Defense Logistics Agency disposition services.”
Samaritans Purse, a charitable organization based out of North Carolina, donated the majority of the kits that are being distributed.
“We are motivated to show compassion and care to the Afghan evacuees during this challenging transition period, and ultimately to welcome them home,” said Ingrid Heres, the Samaritans Purse Team Lead. “This is a well-planned and coordinated effort with members from the Department of Defense.”
Afghan evacuees were individually sized before being provided the cold weather kits. “The sizing process is very important,” said Thomas Grove, a volunteer with Samaritans Purse. “If you have someone that needs a pair of boots or a jacket, you want to make sure it fits them properly so they can utilize the item they are being given.”
To Grove, this was an opportunity to give back and help those in need. “We have all been in need at one point in our lives, and we all deserve to be taken care of.”
The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for at least 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. This initiative provides Afghan personnel essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan.