Holiday Spirit Arrives Early for Some
July 13, 2007
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (Army News Service, July 13, 2007) - Most people don't start thinking about Christmas until late in the year. But for hundreds of troops here, a dose of holiday spirit will come several months early thanks to the generosity of people and organizations back home.
"When III Corps arrived in December, the Chaplain's Office did not have enough time to plan a Christmas event," said Maj. Stephen Sheridan, chief of medical logistics, Multinational Corps-Iraq. "So I thought, let's have a 'Christmas in July' event instead."
With help from a friend in the States, Maj. Sheridan said he took the idea and ran with it.
"My buddy Ken Howard told me that he believed the average American supported us over here, but didn't know how to do anything, so he suggested that I connect with the Chaplain's Office," Sheridan said. "I used a baseball analogy - the Chaplain's Office was the catcher, American supporters were the pitchers, and I was the coach - making the troops the winners."
Maj. Sheridan started sending fliers to the States in February. In addition to an explanation of 'Christmas in July,' he included gift ideas and mailing instructions. Since then, more than 265 packages from 59 individuals and 23 organizations have piled up. And the numbers continue to rise.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support," Maj. Sheridan said. "From the numbers, I think it was a huge success."
Spc. Denise Monroe, chaplain assistant, MNC-I, has spent several weeks behind the scenes organizing and allocating boxes to religious support teams according to their needs.
"We got some pretty good stuff - we got a ton of granola bars, Girl Scout cookies, soaps and shampoos, but we mostly got individual care packages," Spc. Monroe said. "Just having a package to open is always good for people who are kind of missing home, especially now because we're several months in and still have several months to go."
Maj. Sheridan said he is grateful to everyone who helped make the project a success.
"We have great Americans back home who sent all the care packages," he said. "Our chaplains and religious support teams are such an important asset - I could not have done this without their support.
"I know it picks up my spirit when I receive a package, so I am hoping that the troops are blessed by people's generosity and are reminded of the great support from home," he said.
(Spc. Laura M. Bigenho writes for the 28th Public Affairs Detachment.)