BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - For the past two years, North Bay Elementary students have been sending care packages to the service men and women of Charlie Troop 389 CAV in Afghanistan.
Each month, the young scholars packaged up goodies to send to the deployed soldiers. On Aug. 12, they gathered for a patriotic assembly with a big surprise - Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Stanley.
"I've done some things in my life, jumped out of airplanes, but yeah, this is kind of nerve-racking a little bit," said Stanley.
Stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana, Stanley drove Bay St. Louis to say thank you on behalf of the troop.
"To get a letter, to get a photo, like a picture or a box of junk food, it's amazing," said Stanley. "To be able to stand up in front of these kids and say thank you, it means a lot to me."
Cheers erupted when Stanley suddenly appeared on stage.
"I felt really good. It told me that I pleased somebody and I helped them," said fourth grader Jay Kelton.
Stanley presented the school with several American flags that flew on an aircraft in Afghanistan. The tokens of appreciation helped build a stronger bond between the students and the soldiers.
"I feel it's important to have that face to face with them. They don't see it in a letter, they don't see it in a phone call.," Stanley added. "It's more personal this way, to actually see me. I get to shake their hands and say thank you."
The school plans to send more care packages to the same soldiers the next time the troop is deployed.