Grants totaling NIS 200,000 (USD 47,200) were distributed to students in Shlomi and Arab el-Aramsheh along the border with Lebanon by Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Friday afternoon.
The grants were collected by a private organization set up by former members of Armor Corps brigade 421, which was part of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's division during the Yom Kippur war. The soldiers decided to adopt the two communities for which they collected over NIS 350,000 (USD 83,300) over the last six months since the war with Hizbullah ended.
IDF soldierS along norther border during second Lebanon war (Photo: AP)
A bond developed between soldiers of the brigade and residents of the two communities soon after last summer's war.
"We are part of those who protest," said Yossi Regev, one of the soldiers.
"We decided that something needs to be done and we decided on these two communities. One is a Jewish community which has been in the line of fire and which economic situation is bad, and the second is a Bedouin community, also along the northern border, which sons serve in the IDF and in the last war lost three women who were hit by a Katyusha."
Since the war ended, members of the organization initiated a number of charitable and educational events in the communities.
"Months ago we distributed NIS 40,000 (USD 9,500) to students so they can register on time to courses and prepare for the new year," Regev said. "In Shlomi they wanted us to give some students more money than others but in Arab al-Aramsheh they preferred that we give smaller sums to a larger number of students than planned."
Sixteen students from Shlomi were granted NIS 10,000 (USD 2,380) each and 18 students from Arab al-Aramsheh were given NIS 2,500 (USD 595) each.
The head of Shlomi's Regional Council, Gabi Naaman, praised the organization for its work: "Throughout my stay in the community I can't remember grants of this size. Members of the organization are people whom the state owes a lot, and they continue to donate as much as they can. In Shlomi their work is evident in the education system, starting with children in kindergartens, to the multimedia center in the cultural center, and ending with their involvement in the establishment of a number of secondary schools in the community."