WASHINGTON -- A small wooden box containing 20 one-dollar bills arrived at the Pentagon recently with an 8-year-old boy's appeal to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney: "Please use this money to help buy water for the troops in the desert and the men on the boats at the Gulf."
From Washington, D.C. -- where the boy runs a lemonade stand -- to Iowa to California, more than two dozen individual gifts of $5 to $1,000 have been sent to help the Pentagon pay for Operation Desert Shield, Pentagon records show.
These gifts to the Defense Department, which an Internal Revenue Service spokesman said were tax-deductible, have been deposited in a special Defense Cooperation Account, wired to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and then invested in short-term Treasury bills at interest rates slightly below 7.5 percent, records show.
The 8-year-old from Washington, whose name is David, mailed $20 earned from sales of lemonade at the corner of Nebraska and Connecticut avenues, said Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams, who withheld the boy's last name to protect his privacy. "I haven't talked to his mother to ask whether I can use his name or not," he said.
Records kept by the Pentagon comptroller's office show that individual contributions include $15 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit No. 238 in Mechanicsburg, Ohio; $25 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit No. 98 in Clarinda, Iowa; and two separate checks totaling $500 from American Legion Post 820 in Imperial Beach, Calif.
Three U.S. companies gave between $100 and $200 each, while a Tokyo-based group, the Japan Technological Transfer Association, contributed $1,487.20. Pentagon officials, who declined to name individual donors, were baffled by the private Japanese check.
Although the Pentagon is nearly drowning in a sea of donated cookies, athletic gear, radios, toilet paper and even 1,176 sets of juggling equipment, only cash totaling $6,257.92 had been collected from 31 individual contributors as of Nov. 20, officials said.
The Bush administration hasn't made much of an appeal to Americans for money, except for Defense Secretary Cheney. At a Senate hearing in September, he opened a discussion about his enormous Persian Gulf expenses by saying, "We are, first of all, happy to accept all donations and offers of assistance."