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March of Dollars

President Bush often speaks of mobilizing "armies of compassion." Last week, he lowered the enlistment age for that branch of the military.

The president, at a press conference Thursday evening, called on every American child to tuck a dollar into an envelope for humanitarian aid to Afghan children and send it to the White House.

The next day at 2 p.m. EDT, just over a month since terrorism left more than 5,000 dead in three states, Mr. Bush joined Secretary of Education Rod Paige and children across the country in what organizers hoped would be a simultaneous Pledge of Allegiance.

Mr. Bush, at the end of his East Room press conference devoted to terrorism and the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, addressed brief closing remarks to the nation's youngsters.

"I ask you to join in a special effort to help the children of Afghanistan," the president said. "One in three Afghan children is an orphan. Almost half suffer chronic malnutrition. And we can, and must, help them."

The White House said children should address their envelopes to: America's Fund for Afghan Children, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20509-1600. The American Red Cross, whose headquarters are near the White House, will supervise the relief effort.

"Winter is coming," Mr. Bush said, "and by acting today we can help the children survive."

American planes began dropping meals-ready-to-eat into Afghanistan even as other U.S. planes were dropping 500-pound bombs on strategic targets Oct. 7.

America's schoolhouses, it appears, will be yet another front, in effect a compassion offensive, in what Mr. Bush last week called "a new and different war."

—Ben Wear

Vol. 21, Issue 7, Page 23

Published in Print: October 17, 2001, as Federal File

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