Below: Spc Daly puts the final touches on the packages with decorations and greetings. She packaged, wrapped and decorated 60 packages for the third country nationals that work at the bulk fuel re-supply point at Camp Taji. She will surprise them on Christmas day when she shows up with a truck full of presents and Christmas stockings.
Photos and Article by: Spc Nathan Hoskins,
1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs
Camp Taji, Iraq - One of the toughest times of the deployment for Soldiers is normally the holidays, but it isn't just Soldiers who are homesick and miss their loved ones.
Crivitz, Wisconsin native Spc Nicole Daly, a motor vehile operator, for the 1157th Transportation Battalion, Wisconsin Army National Guard, attached to the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st cavalry division, sees the smiling faces of the men who work at the "bag farm," a bulk fuel resupply point where the fuel containers look like over sized bags.
These employees are third country nationals who are from the Philippines.
"They celebrate Christmas just like you and me; they even have Christmas tree competitions and give gifts," Daly said. "I know that they all have families back home and they all want to be home just like everybody here wants to be home for the holidays. They work hare there for 15 hours a day."
The large influx of care packages to the 1157th gave the idea to Daly's squad leader, Appleton, Wisconsin native Sgt Dominic Renteria, a motor vehicle operator, to give away the extras. That is when Spc Daly took the idea and ran with it.
"I got the idea to put together smaller care packages and wrapping them and giving them to the third country nationals here - giving it to them so that they can celebrate Christmas, too."
Daly put up fliers in the mail room for boxes of all shapes and sizes and received a good response. She then filled those boxes with crossword puzzles, books, DVDs, coffee mugs, candies, cookies and more. Some of them even have baseballs and squirt guns.
For the 60 boxes she assembled, she wrapped them in brown packaging paper and drew pictures on the outside of every box. "They each have their own personalized card. We work with them every day, so we know all of their names," she said.
Daly has gathered up enough Christmas stockings so that every one of the base camp workers will get one.
"I think this is the coolest thing I've ever done. I've never been involved in charitable things before," she said. There is always a first time for everything, and for Daly, being able to bring cheer to someone else's life brings with it her own feelings of joy.
"That morning when we get there and they're expecting it to be like any other day... It will probably be the first gift they've gotten in months. To be able to be that person who can hand them that gift -- moments like that make it worthwhile," said Daly.
It truly is the giving that warms the heart. Thank you, Spc Nicole Daly.