The Bunkers in Baghdad Board
Joe Hanna - President and Founder
Jenn Weintraub - Officer
Dr. Jon Beck - Officer
A few words from Joe Hanna, President and Founder of Bunkers in Baghdad, explaining the story of how we got here:
I was watching 60 Minutes one evening and noticed that one of the stories featured our soldiers hitting golf balls in the desert. I said to myself “that is pretty cool” and then forgot about it. Shortly thereafter I read an article by David Feherty in Golf Magazine that detailed his experiences on a USO tour in Iraq and Kuwait and featured the opening of a driving range at Camp Victory in Iraq. I learned from the article that there are actually numerous makeshift driving ranges throughout Iraq as golf has become a favorite form of stress relief for the soldiers stationed there. I then thought to myself that the least I can do is collect some golf balls and some golf clubs. A short time later – that “some” has turned into over 5,500,000 golf balls and over 300,000 clubs, with more arriving daily.
The purpose of Bunkers in Baghdad is simple – we collect new and used golf balls and golf clubs and then ship them overseas to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have reached out to many national golf corporations, golfers on both the LPGA and PGA tours, national golf associations, golf course from around the country, including many from right here in Western New York, local and national golf retailers, local school districts and individuals, to help further our Bunkers mission. The response has simply been overwhelming.
Our first official shipment of golf balls went out in November 2008 to reach Iraq in time for the holidays. Our inaugural shipment was made even more special by the fact that it was coordinated and packaged by students from the Williamsville Central School District. In addition to raising money to ship each box directly through the United States Postal Service, the students packed each box with balls, holiday cards and letters they wrote to the soldiers. Our “Bunkers Buddies” program is especially rewarding not only for the soldiers, but for the students themselves. They are truly excited about public service and want to give back to our troops in their own special way. To date, we’ve shipped over 5,500,000 golf balls and over 300,000 clubs to Afghanistan plus 29 other countries around the world and to facilities in each of the 50 states.
The Bunkers program also includes injured veterans who are currently recovering in Wounded Warriors programs and other military installations and VA hospitals across the United States. We provide equipment to help with their rehabilitation and as a form of recreation. Also, as you can imagine, the families of wounded troops at spend day and night with their injured loved ones and because of this, many medical centers have set up therapy programs for the families which we will also contribute to.
Bunkers in Baghdad is run 100% on donations – from the equipment that is generously donated to the funds required to pay for shipping to our troops. We plan on holding several fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to help cover shipping and packaging costs so we can keep sending equipment out. We welcome individuals and organizations that would like to join with us as fundraising partners to help us in our mission.
Bunkers in Baghdad, Inc. is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) public charity.