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Pens and Paper for Peace kicks off

Project in memory of Capt. Matthew Freeman

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POSTED: June 1, 2010 1:14 p.m.
A local effort to honor a fallen Marine from Richmond Hill is expanding into a national campaign to help improve education for children in war-torn countries with the official launch Monday of the Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace.
To celebrate this endeavor and the launch of the project’s new Web site, www.freemanproject.org, a kick-off event is set for noon Monday at the veterans memorial in J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill.
The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace was announced in April by Richmond Hill resident Lisa Freeman, the mother of U.S. Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman who was killed Aug. 7, 2009, in action in Afghanistan.
Just two days before he was killed, Freeman called his mother, a 30-year veteran Richmond Hill school teacher, and told her of the children he met that wanted nothing as much as they wanted pens and paper. He asked her to start a collection of supplies to be sent overseas.
“The amazing thing about Matthew’s call was that he had only been in Afghanistan for a week,” said Lisa Freeman, who founded The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens & Paper for Peace and who will explain the national effort at Monday’s event. “He had an amazing capacity – the vision to see what was needed, and then do whatever was required to meet the need. Now it’s up to us to realize his vision.”
Shortly after his death, Richmond Hill Boy Scouts honored Matthew Freeman, a former Eagle Scout himself, by organizing a collection drive of pens and paper that were distributed through soldiers at Fort Stewart Army Base to school children in Afghanistan.
Those Scouts will be honored during Monday’s event.
Students in five other states have volunteered to serve as chapter presidents of The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace as they organize and direct collection efforts in their communities. And people from even more states are expected to join the effort, as well.
“We’re hoping to add more states as more people become aware of Matthew’s and his mother’s story,” said Jim Bunn, a volunteer with the project.
Bunn covered the war in Afghanistan as an embedded journalist for NBC News with the 101st Airborne, Third Brigade.
To help promote the national campaign, Bunn is creating a documentary on Freeman’s life, the creation of the Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace and Richmond Hill’s response to the fallen Marine’s request.
“We believe that having American school children help children in war-torn countries continue their education is a message of hope and healing that will have universal appeal no matter what people think about the war,” he said.
Bunn, who was a classmate of Lisa Freeman’s in high school, got involved after about Matthew’s death
At his 40th high school reunion, Bunn’s class raised around $12,000 – money that was used to help build seven schools and libraries in Afghanistan.
Monday’s event will also mark the official launch of the project’s Web site, and www.freemanproject.org will go “live” as a ceremonial switch is thrown by Theresa Freeman, Matthew’s widow.
The Richmond Hill High School band will provide music at the event and a color guard from nearby Fort Stewart will also be part of the ceremony.
The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to collecting pens, paper and other school supplies in cities and towns across the country and sending them to U.S. military personnel for distribution in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn countries where children’s education has been interrupted by armed conflict.
Donations are tax deductible, and an account for the project has been set up at the Bryan Bank and Trust. Donations can be made to the Matthew Freeman Memorial Fund at the bank or can be mailed to P.O. Box 1299, Richmond Hill, GA 31324.



 

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