By Sandi Moynihan

ERBIL, Iraq—Surprises are among the best things in life.

When Army Sgt. Sarobar Thapa and his unit first arrived at their forward operating base in northern Iraq, he knew they were in for several days, if not weeks, of MREs and living without fresh toiletries, entertainment or connectivity.

“Our guys are making it rough and tough,” he said. “Right now, we’re just having all the usual hard times with the basic needs like toiletries and water.”

So he reached out to USO Erbil for help.

During a routine laundry mission, Thapa stopped by the USO center and asked center manager Pennington Walker if there was any way the USO could provide him with fresh toiletries to pick up and deliver to his unit over the next two days.

“[This request] was a call to do just that,” Walker said. “To not only meet the expectation, but to exceed it.”

With only 48 hours to act, Walker and the USO Erbil team quickly pulled together a kit featuring USO Toiletry Packs, games and sports equipment. The kit also included a number of favorite sweet treats like Nutter Butters, Oreos and Rice Krispies.

When Thapa came by a few days later to pick up what he thought would be just toiletries, he was immediately surprised and excited to bring the kit back to his unsuspecting unit.

“I’m just very excited to see the soldiers’ [faces],” Thapa said. “When they open the trunk, I know there’s going to be a lot of ‘I want this, I want that’.”