Christmas in Iraq will feel a little more like home for thousands of soldiers, thanks to the efforts of students at Northwest University. On Wednesday, November 28, Northwest's chapel was transformed into an efficient, box-packaging warehouse. Hundreds of students at the Assemblies of God school in Kirkland, Washington, joined forces to assemble 3,000 holiday packages in just one day as part of Operation Iraq: The Spirit of Christmas. This is the second year that Northwest has provided its chapel as the staging location for the community-wide project. Since being founded by Ruth Ann Young in 2003, Operation Iraq has sent more than 36,000 holiday boxes to U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The gifts are meant to show appreciation and share comfort in the midst of war. The 3,000 packages assembled by Northwest students are among the 7,700 that Operation Iraq will ship to soldiers in the Middle East this holiday season. Phil Rasmussen, dean of the chapel at Northwest, helped coordinate the school's involvement in Operation Iraq. He says that students, faculty and staff alike were very enthusiastic about this outreach opportunity. The university community spent two and a half hours packaging boxes and an additional four hours loading them on to two semi trucks. "Everyone works really hard, but has a great time together. It's a great moment for us as an NU family. We have a lot of fun together on that day." Rasmussen says of the atmosphere in the chapel on box packaging day. On the Operation Iraq Web site, Young writes of Northwest University and its students, "They are the best university in America in many ways because of their determination to make a difference in the world." The Operation Iraq packages include gifts of tasty nonperishable snacks and candy, CDs, toiletry items, children's artwork and handwritten notes of appreciation. Individuals in the community and local businesses donated all of the items.
View pictures of Northwest students in action at http://www.northwestu.edu/ and learn more about Operation Iraq at http://www.operationiraq.org/.
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