US power engineering company Symbion Power, in collaboration with Hart Security and Alstom (then AREVA Transmission and Distribution), joined together on an initiative to donate boots and socks to children in need in Afghanistan.
The programme was called Operation Warm Toes and delivered more than 3 200 pairs of children’s winter boots and shoes, as well as more than 2 500 pair of socks, to children at schools and orphanages near Symbion’s projects in Kabul. The first distribution took place at a school in Kabul on December 25 2008, where expatriate employees of Symbion and Hart gave out the items to more than 800 children.
Symbion Power was participating in the US-funded power construction programme in Afghanistan as well as working to build local capacity. That same year, the company opened The Symbion Power Center, a school in Kabul that trained unskilled people to build and maintain power-transmission projects. This was part of Symbion Power’s efforts to provide opportunities for Afghans to take part in the reconstruction of their country.
‘We cannot ignore the poor conditions that many of these people live in,’ said Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power. ‘Young kids wander around the streets without proper shoes and socks in the freezing winter, so when one of our colleagues, Steve Pearce, came to me with an idea to donate boots and socks to Afghan children, I immediately agreed. That is when Operation Warm Toes was created.’ Hinks continued, ‘I realized that we could use surplus space in aircraft we were chartering for our project work to deliver the shoes and socks with no extra transport cost. Each of our partners, including our air charter logistics subcontractor, BDP Projects, were eager to participate and generously donated their time and resources in order to help bring much needed relief to children in Afghanistan. I am very grateful to all of them.’