Summit County students see Iraqi kids getting their gifts |

Summit County students see Iraqi kids getting their gifts

Robert Allen
Summit Daily News
Special to the DailyIraqi children hold up a banner thanking Summit Cove Elementary students for gifts.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” The local boy whose interest in reading and writing prospered through a Marine pen pal got to witness the impact of giving this week when donated toys from Summit County appeared in an Iraqi school.

Jacob Poehls, 8, and his third-grade classmates at Summit Cove Elementary mailed packages of Girl Scout Cookies and other gifts, which were distributed Monday by a group of U.S. Paratroopers in eastern Baghdad.

The military provided a video of the distribution to many excited Iraqi children.

“We’ve watched it a number of times, and every time, I look at something different,” said Nora Hall, Jacob’s mother, adding that it put the moment in perspective to see the armed soldiers distributing the gifts.

Jacob’s story got national coverage in mid-February when the student with learning disabilities met his first pen pal, Sgt. Baltazar Pineda on NBC’s Today Show through a live video conference.

His new pen pal, Spc. Greg Moreland, brought the Iraqi children their gifts.

“The children were overwhelmed with joy. They were smiling, jumping up and down, and screaming. It was a beautiful sight,” Moreland said in an e-mail to Jacob, adding that a little girl kissed a photo of Jacob and said “Thank you” in English.

Jacob had a tough time letting go of some of his favorite stuffed animals, but Hall said he was happy to see them again in the video.

While in New York City for the show, the boy and his mother spent a few days sightseeing. When it came time to exit Central Park and catch a car to the airport, Jacob was saddened.

“I said, ‘Reading and writing got you here, and look where it can take you. It can take you there,'” Hall said. “With all the excitement, that was one moment ” the ‘aha’ moment ” that you wait for.”

She said Jacob stopped and looked at her and “he actually got it.”

Last fall, Hall was concerned with Jacob’s lack of interest in his studies. She found after many sleepless nights, hoping Jacob’s passion for the military could impact his school work.

The boy has since made significant progress, sending frequent messages to his military pen pals.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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