If you want to know the weather in Afghanistan, ask Janel Warrington.
Her mobile phone is set so she can quickly check conditions in the capital city of Kabul, where the high temperature was 27 last Tuesday, the day I talked to Warrington about her campaign to send warm clothing to children in the war-torn country.
The 30-year-old Bellingham office assistant took up the cause by happenstance.
Her brother, Ben, serves in the U.S. Army infantry and was sent to Afghanistan last August for a yearlong deployment. Family and friends began sending Ben packages filled with games, food, candy, magazines and other items, including hand warmers.
When Ben received holiday leave and visited family in Spokane last December, he asked that instead of goodies for him, he'd rather receive shipments of warm clothing for kids in Afghanistan.
"He sees these children without adequate clothing for the winter," Janel said.
Warm clothing is more than a matter of style and convenience; it can be a matter of life and death. At least two dozen children have died in Afghan refugee camps in recent week due to exposure to heavy snow and unusually cold weather, according to stories in The New York Times.
The Warrington family relayed Ben's request to friends and, so far, some 30 boxes of gloves, hats, mittens, scarves, jackets and boots have been shipped to Ben for distribution.
Now Janel is spreading the idea far and wide through her "Keep Afghanistan Warm" page on Facebook.
"People are talking about it," she said. "They say they have stuff to send."
People elsewhere can ship clothing directly to Ben. Local people can contact Janel, who is gathering donations at home for shipment overseas.
Janel said her brother sees the effort a way to help build rapport with Afghans, and a way to sustain his sense of humanity in the ravaged country.
"He's found a way to remain compassionate in a horrible, horrible place," she said.
For Janel, the effort is one way to apply her Christian ideals, thanks to her brother's suggestion.
"My focus is the kids," she said. "I just felt led to this."
To contact Janel Warrington, email her at email@example.com.
Warrington is shipping warm clothing to children in Afghanistan. People also ship clothing themselves to: Benjamin Warrington, Bco 1-2 IN TF Blackscarves, FOB Four Corners, APO AE 09311. For details and photos, search Facebook for "Keep Afghanistan Warm."
Whatcom Homefront sends care packages to service members who have a connection to Whatcom County and are serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. The packages include food, personal care items, reading material, cards and letters.
"We always are looking for new names of troops with Whatcom County connections," said Kevin Goertz, Homefront president. "We know that we don't have everybody."
To donate, or to suggest recipients for packages, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write: Whatcom Homefront, P.O. Box 32328, Bellingham, WA 98228-4328.
Reach DEAN KAHN email@example.com or call 715-2291.