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America Supports You: Soldier’s Mother, Coworkers Send Cheer to Troops

By Master Sgt. Doug Sample, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Dec. 12, 2006 – Soldiers with the 277th Aviation Support Battalion will have a brighter Christmas, thanks to one soldier’s mother and the generosity of her co-workers.

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Nancy Ward (far right) poses with fellow Electronic Data Systems, Corp., employees in their Reston, Va., office. When Ward began gathering supplies to mail Christmas goodie bags to troops deployed with her son in Afghanistan, her co-workers jumped on board, donating gifts and money. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Nancy Ward, the mother of Sgt. 1st Class James Foley, recently organized a gift drive at her work, the Reston, Va., office of Texas-based Electronic Data Systems Corporation. Ward and her coworkers donated hundreds of dollars for small gifts that were later stuffed into gift bags and shipped to soldiers serving here.

“My mother is extremely patriotic and is always asking me if she can do anything to help the Soldiers,” Foley explained. “And the fact that she works with a government contractor means that most of (her coworkers) are prior military or military affiliated.”

Ward said the idea of providing gifts to the troops originated after she decided to send a few personal items to her son serving in Afghanistan. “I wanted to send him some supplies, such as deodorant, eye drops, shampoo, candy, books, etc.,” she explained. “And at one point, he asked me to help him get some small gifts for his soldiers so they could have a nice Christmas.”

Ward took her son’s request a step further, mentioning the idea to fellow EDS employees. Soon, contributions came pouring in from employees at the company’s Atlanta office as well. “I mentioned what I was doing for my son to a couple of my friends at work, and they said they wanted to help out,” she said. “At EDS, our employees actively engage in community-service projects around the world. We are proud of our U.S. servicemen and women, and many of my co-workers were looking for ways to help out the troops and to show our support for them.”

What started out with just Ward and a few friends quickly grew into a team of more than 100 EDS employees who stepped up to contribute gifts and personal supplies for troops stationed here.

“Any cash received was used for postage, packaging and mailing expenses,” Ward said. She added that knowing she and fellow employees are helping make the holidays special for a few deployed troops is a great feeling.

“I did this for love -- for my son,” she explained. “But I’m the ‘mom’ for every soldier serving our country everywhere. I am happy that my son could help to distribute some small gifts to the troops, and I’m proud to work for a company like EDS where people are always ready to pitch in to help others. The teamwork really makes a difference.

“I am proud of everyone - the soldiers, my EDS co-workers and the U.S.A. for caring enough to help around the world,” Ward added.

Meanwhile, Foley has his hands full handing out the gift bags packed with toiletries, small games, candy and other edibles.

“I was very proud of my mother when she told me what she did, and a little bit surprised when I found out the amount of presents she collected; she sent 17 cases in all,” he said. “Even now, we are still packing gifts for the soldiers.”

Foley said most bags will go to soldiers stationed at the unit’s remote forward operating bases, located in some of the most hazardous parts of the country.

“Those are the soldiers who we want to help bring the spirit of Christmas to and who will benefit the most,” he said.

(Army Master Sgt. Doug Sample is assigned to Task Force Falcon.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. 1st Class James Foley, deployed to Afghanistan with the 277th Aviation Support Battalion, inspired his mother, Nancy Ward, to enlist the help of co-workers to send gift bags to the deployed soldiers. Courtesy photo  
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