Actor Gary Sinise Spearheads Effort to Aid Iraqi Children; ”Operation Iraqi Children” Combines Efforts of Major Non-Profits and FedEx

KANSAS CITY, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 2004–Actor Gary Sinise announced tthis week that 3 major non-profit organizations and FedEx Express, the world’s largest express shipping company and an operating company of FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX), are working together to help schoolchildren in Iraq. It’s an effort coordinated by Operation Iraqi Children, a grassroots organization co-founded by actor Gary Sinise and Seabiscuit: An American Legend best-selling author Laura Hillenbrand. Operation Iraqi Children, which was inspired by conversations with Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers as well as by Sinise’s recent tour of Iraq, encourages ordinary citizens to send school supplies and Arabic translations of Seabiscuit to Iraqi children.

Heart to Heart International, a global humanitarian organization mobilizing individuals to serve the needs of the poor in their communities and around the world; People to People International (PTPI), a voluntary effort of private citizens promoting international understanding through direct people-to-people contacts; and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, along with sponsor FedEx are working together with Operation Iraqi Children on this project.

At a news conference at the FedEx terminal at the Kansas City International Airport, Sinise said the goal of this collaborative effort is to provide every child in Iraq’s more than 15,000 schools with basic educational tools and supplies; as well as an Arabic copy of Seabiscuit. These supplies will be delivered by soldiers stationed in Iraq.

Hillenbrand added, "I can’t express how grateful I am that FedEx, People to People International, Heart to Heart International, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are joining us in Operation Iraqi Children. With their immense generosity, we can bring a new and brighter future to the children of Iraq."

Dr. Gary Morsch, president and founder of Heart to Heart International, believes this partnership highlights the mission of the organization he founded 11 years ago. "As a battalion surgeon serving at Camp Anaconda, and having had the privilege of delivering Heart to Heart supplies to villages in this area, I’m a soldier who knows firsthand the incredible goodwill that comes from helping to provide the most basic materials." Lt. Col. Morsch goes on to say, "These good people have suffered a great deal. What an incredible joy to share some of the plenty we take for granted."

PTPI has pledged to involve its worldwide membership to become a part of this monumental effort. "It is a distinct honor for members of our People to People International family around the world to work in collaboration with these esteemed organizations and to assist Operation Iraqi Children in its mission," said PTPI President and CEO Mary Jean Eisenhower. "Our members have a history of supporting people in need: from victims of landmines in Sri Lanka, underprivileged children in Haiti, to orphanages in Morocco. Our global network is ready to answer the call for the innocent children of this country in conflict."

"This is a mission that shows you how much heart our service members have," says Edward S. Banas, commander-in-chief of the 2.6 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. "This is our way of making a difference in not only helping our soldiers’ aid in the battle for peace, but also to help promote peace through education."

Operation Iraqi Children offers two programs for individuals to make a difference. Through the School Supplies Program, children can help their Iraqi counterparts by gathering school supplies in school-wide drives, which will then be sent to Heart to Heart International’s warehouse in Kansas City. From there, FedEx will provide free shipping to a military base in Iraq, where soldiers will take them to Iraqi villages. Instructions for assembling the appropriate school kits are listed at the Heart to Heart International Web site at www.hearttoheart.org. Please note that customs clearances, and shipment permissions may be jeopardized if inappropriate items are included. Through the Seabiscuit Program, operated through Thoroughbred Charities of America, donations can be made that will be used to purchase very low cost Arabic translations of the best-selling book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend. Information on both these programs can be found at www.operationiraqichildren.org