July 26, 2007
Working day to day at the Giant on Pantops it may look like Natasha Wheeler is helping customers, but they're also helping her keep her mind off her husband's absence from home.
"You learn to deal with it. I just basically work, spend time with my kids, time with my family," shared Natasha.
Her husband is on his third tour of duty in Iraq. He's been gone since February and her co-workers decided to band together to help.
"I can't imagine what it is like to have him away and also in such a dangerous place," said Michele Notto, who came up with the idea for a donation drive.
All month long, the employees are collecting donations of items such as calling cards, games, magazines and hygiene products.
With a bin next to the registers, the workers have made it easy for anyone coming in and out of Giant to pitch in and spread a little joy.
"We know that there is a conflict over there and we hear about it in the news, but you tend to forget about it or you say, 'Oh I want to help but...'" explained Notto. "This way they don't have to go anywhere and they can just come to Giant and donate and we'll take care of sending it."
The collection is a secret Natasha has kept from her husband in their weekly phone calls.
So far, the grocery store has collected two bin-fulls. The workers hope for even more in this last week, so when they send it overseas everyone in the unit can share in the big surprise.
"He'll be happy," expressed Natasha. "He tells everyone what I send him and tells me about what everyone sends him, what his family sends him."
The people at Giant hope those packages will keep Natasha's husband going until he finally gets to come home.
"He's ready to come home," said Natasha. "He is ready to get out of that place."
The drive runs until the end of July.