American friends help IDF with needed winter goods

Goods at Ben Gurion Airport. Photo by Ori Shemesh, courtesy of FIDF

On Dec. 17, a five-week initiative by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in America culminated in the shipment of two planeloads of materials for Israeli soldiers, with a value of over $10 million.

The drive was to supply essential winter clothing and gear as the war in Gaza and operations at the Lebanese border continue.

The massive effort, dubbed the “Winter Clothing Operation,” involved the purchase of 2,647,013 items and their delivery to Israel on two chartered 747s on Nov. 22 (585,132 items) and Dec. 4 (368,951 items), along with cargo flights containing 103,764 items, and El Al flights carrying 429,836 items.

Last month, in anticipation of the cold months ahead, the IDF approached FIDF with an urgent request for essential winter items for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and reservists in active duty. FIDF swiftly raised funds, sourced and purchased the requested gear, and organized its shipment to Israel, ensuring each item aligned with the IDF’s requirements and specifications.

“Through our daily communication with the IDF, we understand their greatest needs recognize that these essentials can make all the difference for combat soldiers, who are making the most incredible sacrifices during this war,” said Steve Weil, chief executive officer of FIDF. “As the IDF’s sole designated partner in the U.S., FIDF prioritizes every single request, and we are grateful to our generous supporters who allowed us to fulfill this and every other IDF need.”

The 150 tons of goods included 200,136 warm hats, 47,556 neck gaiters, 184,093 gloves, 327,179 thermal pants, 320,926 thermal tops, 30,823 fleece blankets, 500,000 t-shirts, 479,994 long socks, 483,296 men’s underwear, 50,010 women’s underwear, 10,000 sleeping bags and 13,000 tactical gloves.

FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C) (3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of transforming the lives of the young men and women of the IDF who protect Israel and Jews worldwide through empowering educational, financial, well-being and cultural initiatives. Donations are still welcome, with 100 percent of proceeds going toward the war effort.