Family gets in Christmas spirit, sends 1,550 'gift' bags to Iraq
December 17, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- For many Americans, the Christmas season is all about giving. One Fort Belvoir family's love for their father and his Soldiers displays that sentiment.
Nancy Fiscus and her three children, twins Chris and Brittany, 19, and Rachel, 16, packed and sent 1,440 bags and 110 Christmas stockings to their father, Lt. Col. Paul Fiscus, battalion commander of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, and his unit, stationed in Balad, Iraq.
Their father is set to return home Friday from a 12-month tour overseas. This was his sixth tour of duty.
Fiscus noted that with her family in Washington, she knows what is like to have to spend the holidays away from home.
"We got a letter in an e-mail from one of my husband's Soldiers and it was really nice to hear what these packages meant to his Soldiers," Fiscus said. "In the letter, it was the Soldier's second straight Christmas away from home, and she noted how nice it was to have her normal, day-to-day operations interrupted by a gift of love and kindness.
"That is the best thing I could get - a simple thank you. That makes all the work worth it," Fiscus said.
In each package, Soldiers were given pretzels, chewy bars, peanuts, snack packs, toothbrushes, puzzle books and an assortment of candy.
Also included in each bag were cards made by children in Oregon.
In addition to the family, the Association of U.S. Army - Fairfax Lee Chapter; Army Materiel Command; USO - Fort Belvoir; Penn State-Dubois Campus and the Belvoir Officers' Wives' Club donated time and money to the effort.
Chris, a student at Penn State, said he enjoyed helping his mother on the project.
"I thought it was cool. It was fun gathering all the stuff from people up at school," he said.
Even the Belvoir Elementary School and Mount Vernon High School were involved in the effort. Each bag was decorated by kindergarten and first grade students at FBES and by classes at MVHS.
"It started out, I was only going to do 100 stockings," Fiscus said. "Then it went to 200, then 500, then 1,000. At that point, AUSA and AMC got involved, and we were able to do a total of 1,550 stockings and gift bags. We send a total of 30 boxes of bags and stockings."
Fiscus received monetary donations from eight states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, California, Florida, Oregon, Texas and Washington. With their help, Fiscus was able to collect close to $2,000 in donations.
"People sent me stuff because they remembered me sending stuff to them while they were deployed," Fiscus said.
Fiscus said the family had previously sent packages to the brigade on Halloween and she may continue sending them in the future.
"We sent almost 500 little bags of candy for Halloween, so, honestly, I am already thinking about what I can do for Valentine's Day," she said.