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American Children Raise More than $1 Million For Afghan Children - 2001-12-08

President Bush Saturday visited a warehouse preparing to ship humanitarian supplies to Afghan children. American school children raised more than $1 million to pay for winter coats and gifts.

President Bush asked school children across America to send $1 to help Afghan children. The result - more than 1,600 winter coats and 1,500 tents to provide shelter for some 10,000 children.

There are also 10,000 gift packages, including socks and soap, hats and toys, crayons and toothbrushes, school supplies and candy. All are packed in boxes marked: "A Gift to Afghan Children from American children." Touring a warehouse where the supplies are being assembled, Mr. Bush thanked American school children for working hard to raise the money.

"There have been bake sales, and there have been lemonade stands, and there are empty piggy banks and there have been all kinds of drives to raise money for the Afghan children. We've raised over $1.5 million thus far to help the children of Afghanistan. That's a lot of effort by a lot of youngsters," Mr. Bush said.

Afghanistan ranks Number One in the world in maternal mortality.

Almost half the country's children suffer chronic malnutrition. Contributions from American school children are small compared to the massive humanitarian operation required to feed 10 million Afghans.

President Bush says the effort shows that America's fight was never against the people of Afghanistan, only with terrorists based there and a government that backed them. "Americans of all ages care deeply about our fellow citizens, because we are a truly compassionate nation. We are a nation of heart, a nation of decency, and a nation that loves freedom," Mr Bush said.

The president thanked all those who contributed to the fund, saying it is an important way to improve the lives of Afghan women and children, now that U.S. backed forces have toppled the fundamentalist Taleban government.

"Removing the Taleban regime in Afghanistan is one way to help the children and women of Afghanistan. It's one way to make sure the children and women of Afghanistan are able to have a more decent and hopeful life," he said.

The first flight from America's Fund for Afghan Children leaves Sunday for a U.S. airbase in Germany. There, the supplies will be transferred to other aircraft and flown into Turkmenistan. From there, they will then be trucked in to northern Afghanistan.