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Holloman helps get shoes to Afghanistan

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Holloman recently aided a local church in shipping nearly 3,500 pairs of shoes to Afghanistan. 

The idea to send so many shoes there came from a friend of Ms. Janice Gardner, the shoe drive coordinator, who was serving a third tour in Afghanistan. 

"My church friends at the Cloudcroft Church of Christ decided it would be a great project," said Ms. Gardner. "Approximately 25-35 people participated in the boxing, prepping, etc. The shoes came from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas by the busloads." 

To get the shoes to Afghanistan, Ms. Gardner teamed up with Denton Cargo, a government funded program that allows private citizens and groups to work with the military to distribute humanitarian-aid shipments all across the world. 

Getting the shoes to Afghanistan wasn't as easy as putting them in a box and sending it off, however. 

"There was a mountain of paperwork to do," said Ms. Gardner. "Also, all the shoes had to be bound together so they wouldn't get lost if the box was somehow opened. Then the boxes had to be weighed, measured and assigned a number. Then the boxes had to be inspected and photographed before leaving our hands." 

But these weren't the only time set backs the shoes took on their course overseas. 

"The aircraft the shoes were originally scheduled to depart on broke and never made it to Holloman," said Master Sgt. James Thomas, 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron Air Terminal Operation NCOIC. "We contacted the German Air Force to see if they would transport them for us. They agreed and transported the shoes to Andrews Air Force Base, Md." 

The shoes went from Maryland to Germany then Kyrgyzstan and finally made it to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, nearly two months after leaving Holloman. It took hard work and a lot of time to get them there, but the shoes have been passed out to the people of Afghanistan ─ Mission accomplished!