When he was deployed on a security mission in Iraq in 2006, Nevada Army Guard Master Sgt. Paul Kinsey was featured in a Record-Courier photo as a benefactor of care packages from Douglas County organizations.
Two years later, Kinsey was one of a half-dozen Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen at GE Energy in Minden on Tuesday helping the company's employees prepare more than 150 troop boxes for deployed National Guard members this holiday season.
The packing session marked the sixth consecutive year GE Energy has sent troop boxes to National Guard soldiers and airmen.
"One can't underestimate how much a holiday package from home can help improve morale," Kinsey said during a short address to General Electric employees including vice president Brian Palmer. "In terms of importance to the soldiers and airmen, there is no price or value you could place on these boxes."
Each troop box contained items collected by individuals General Electric employees.
On average, each box weighed about 10 pounds and included presents such as food snacks, toiletries, movie and music discs, comic and game books and even Christmas decorations.
GE Energy will pay for the postage, estimated to run about $3,500 and it also provided hours for several employees to organize the troop-box drive and pack and label the boxes.
Employees Donna Chizek and Cheryl Grey were two of the primary organizers of the troop-box drive this autumn. Box manufacturer Kent Landsberg donated the containers and Aramark donated much of the food for the packages.
The troop boxes were sent early this holiday season to reach Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen in disparate locations around the globe. The Nevada Army Guard currently has units in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Air Guard has a security forces squadron in Kyrgystan.
General Electric began shipping troop boxes in 2003 after employees Mike Davis and Larry Auchoberry, both military veterans, came up with the idea to assist troops deployed abroad fighting in the Global War on Terrorism. Six holiday seasons later, the program remains strong " the 150 boxes are the most ever shipped by General Electric.
"With several other charitable drives going on this year, we thought interest might be down in the troop box drive this season," Chizek said. "But when October came around and I sent an inquiry around about how much interest there would be in the troop boxes this year, within a half hour I had hundreds of responses from people saying they wanted to help out."
Of the more than 700 GE Energy employees at the Minden location, seven will have immediate relatives on various military deployments during the holidays.