McKeon said a member of the U.S. Armed Services who is building new schools in Afghanistan, Maj. Terry Howell, said that students in that country "desperately need new pens."

McKeon said his offices in Santa Clarita and Palmdale, both north of Los Angeles, would be collecting ballpoint pens until Oct. 11, after which they will ship the pens to Afghanistan.

"Please help us by donating new ballpoint pens," he wrote.

The United States is expected to keep about 68,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a pared back fighting force, but in the meantime has spent millions of dollars to build or renovate hundreds of schools in the country over the last decade.