A few more Iraqi children will be playing soccer this fall thanks to the efforts of the Brewer High School Junior ROTC and benevolence of the school’s faculty and students.
The JROTC, led by Chief Master Sergeant Steve Hughes, recently collected some 70 soccer balls for distribution to Iraqi youth through Kevin O’Connell, a first sergeant with the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard and the father of recently graduated Brewer High three-sport standout Kyle O’Connell.
Kevin O’Connell currently is deployed in Iraq.
“It was Kevin’s idea to do the soccer ball collection,” said Hughes. “And with our Junior ROTC program, community service is part of the curriculum so it was just a great situation.”
Shortly after the current school year started, notification of the soccer ball drive was sent out to students and staff, and over the next few weeks the subsequent donations far exceeded expectations, Hughes said.
“I was really surprised to get 70 soccer balls donated,” Hughes said. “With a lot of people having to stretch their dollars these days, I thought we might get 10 or 15 and we would have been happy with that.”
The balls will be given to Iraqi children through O’Connell’s connections. Hughes said this marked the first time the Brewer JROTC had worked collaboratively on such a public-service project with the 101st Air Refueling Wing, but hopes to work with the Bangor-based group again.
“Hopefully we can build a good relationship with them,” Hughes said.