WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Not just for kicks

In December I did a short story about Justin Porto, a contractor working in Iraq and a retired Army officer. Justin had launched a program called SAIF ? Soccer for American and Iraqi Friends.

His idea is a simple one ? have people in the United States send him soccer balls and he passes them out to Iraqis as he takes his daily runs in the Green Zone.

It might have been because of the Christmas season or just the simple elegance of Justin's campaign, but the story caught on. It has been linked to by several Web sites including the New York Daily News.

A reporter with Folha de San Paulo, the largest newspaper in Brazil, e-mailed me looking for Justin's contact info. They did a story on Christmas Day. Here is a link if you can read Portuguese.

The Armed Forces Network also did a story, though I can't find it online. Justin sent me a WAV file. It was a nice piece. I'll share the file if anyone wants a copy.

I checked in with Justin this week and as of Jan. 7, he had 46 soccer balls and had distributed 25, if I'm doing the math right from the spreadsheet he sent me. (Full Disclosure: My wife and I sent three soccer balls. We ordered them online from Dick's Sporting Goods. It was as easy as sending something to my parent's in the Shenandoah Valley.) Click here if you want information on how to send soccer balls to Justin.

Recipients of the balls so far include children, police officers, a translator and even a couple trash collectors.

Justin has no pretense that he is changing the world, but he is making a difference.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 10, 2008 at 7:22 PM


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