Sarasota troop headed back to Afghanistan needs our help

Greg Para in Northern Afghanistan (photo courtesy of Para Family).

Sometimes it just amazes me how small the world really is. Right now one of the deployed troops who contacted us for supplies turns out to be practically a neighbor. Not only is he from Sarasota (just about an hour’s drive from Tampa) but his wife is a doctoral student at University of South Florida’s Tampa campus – where of course the “School Supplies for Afghan Children” project moved when the USF Honors College gave us the opportunity to formulate a philanthropy and social media class based on our experience.

We have never met Greg Para and his wife Pearl but when we got Greg’s email from Afghanistan asking for supplies for a school high in the Hindu Kush mountains we of course said “yes.” Greg and Pearl hooked up with us through the USF connection and now the USF Honors students are also raising school supplies and shipping money for a special shipment that will go to Greg.

Greg is helping a school in Northern Afghanistan; there are nearly 1600 students (594 Boys + 997 Girls = Total 1591) in this poor school so everything Greg can deliver there will be a huge help and we of course want show him some “Bulls Pride.”  Many of the Afghan kids actually learn in rooms that have holes in the roof and there is no no heat or A/C so they wear their jackets but are still anxious to learn. Awhile back some of the kids came to Greg’s camp’s entry control point asking if they knew when their teacher would be out of the hospital because they wanted to keep learning English. Mind you they still have snow on the ground over there!

If you can help Greg or any of our other volunteer troops in Afghanistan, we are looking for:

  • spiral notebooks
  • pencils
  • pens
  • small portable whiteboards
  • markers
  • erasers
  • chalk
  • crayons
  • metric rulers
  • pencil sharpeners
  • dull tipped children’s scissors
  • construction paper

As of today we have a new drop off location in Sarasota. It’s at USF Sarasota at the entrance to Jonathan’s Café.  It will be up for the next 3 weeks.  I will go back to pick up all the Sarasota donations on April 6th  and then we’ll pack them with the Honors students and ship them to Greg in Afghanistan. (We also have two drop off sites at USF’s North Tampa campus.)

Of course if you want to help us and are not located in Central Florida, you can ship directly to one of our volunteer troops in Afghanistan. For more information on that email us at And you can always make a 100% tax deductible donation to our shipping fund – please click here for more information. 

Greg tells us he has been in contact with his interpreter and he is excited about the school supplies project and the work we are all doing to help. That interpreter has also spoken with the headmaster at this school and she is excited and anxious to have the US troops to the school to deliver the supplies. Look for photos from that happy delivery in the coming months right here on this blog!

Afghan students learning at the school Greg Para wants to help. Photo courtesy of the Para family.

About Liisa Hyvarinen Temple

Multimedia journalist & multimedia production instructor at USF from 2002 to 2009. Former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow (1999). Winner of Walter Cronkite political reporting award. Proud military wife.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Charity, Education and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sarasota troop headed back to Afghanistan needs our help

  1. Luke Heikkila says:

    I have collected a few boxes worth of supplies and more money then I’ll need for shipping. Two questions. Where can I send the boxes? Where can I send a check?

    • Liisa Hyvarinen Temple says:

      I will send you the address off line due to operational security but you can send the boxes to Greg. Use the money you got to ship the boxes and if you have any left over that you would like to donate, make a check out to Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation and put in the memo section “Afghan Schools.” Without the Afghan schools memo the money goes to the foundation’s main account and we don’t get it. Then send the check to Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, Care of Brian Jordan, Holland & Knight LLP, 201 N. Franklin Street – 12th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602 – for more information go here:

      • Luke Heikkila says:

        Thank you for the address for Holland & Knight. I gathered $96 and have three boxes so I just might have a few bucks left over. Have you sent the APO info yet? If you have I haven’t received it…could you send it to either luke.a.heikkila (at) or lheikkila (at)


      • Liisa Hyvarinen Temple says:

        I sent the APO address on March 16 and again just now. check your junk mail folder … it has an attachment so it may have gotten blocked.

  2. Pingback: Meeting the Paras – an important piece to our puzzle | School Supplies for Afghan Children

  3. Ibrahimi says:


    As the school advocate, Greg’s friend and Afghan side coordinator of the school supplies distribution for this school I would like to appreciate and thank you, Greg Para, Pearl Para, Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation and everybody else involved in this project that I am unlucky to have their names. It was a great work done for the students as they are the young generation of this country and the future builders of the war torn Afghanistan. I can tell you that I saw a lot of smiles and happiness from the kids and it was great moments to see. I took numerous pictures while distributing the school supplies and I hope you have seen them.

    Thanks again from all of you and looking forward to do more with you for the students.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s