EL PASO - A West El Paso army wife will be able to surprise her husband who's returning from overseas after all.
Atoyia Holt paid thousands of dollars to re-landscape her backyard before her husband returns home from overseas, but the landscaping company took her money and didn't finish the job. That's why today a group Fort Bliss Soldiers and people who saw our story did.
"She needed help, so I'm here to help," Vickie Marsh said.
"I felt it was the least I could do," Bianca Procopio said.
They volunteered their time shoveling up dirt and working hard to help her surprise her husband who's coming home Saturday for the first time in seven months.
"Her husband put himself in harm's way for our benefit and our protection and I felt this was one way we could say thank you to him for his sacrifice, and to her for her sacrifice of having to live without him," Procopio said.
The volunteers began at six Thursday morning, and by noon had half of the job done.
"Half of these people out here I've been in Iraq with once or twice, and when somebody gets in a bad situation you just don't leave them hanging," Kelby Smith said.
Not only did people volunteer time, a local landscaping company that wants to remain anonymous donated all of the grass for the backyard. A restaurant also donated lunch for the volunteers.
"It's just amazing, so amazing," Holt said.
Holt says she can't believe the community pulled together for her husband.
"I can't stop smiling. He's going to come home and he's going to be like "what the heck," because he doesn't know yet. So now the surprise is back on," Holt said.
After more than 8 hours of manual labor in the hot El Paso sun, the work is nearly complete. The volunteers will be back tomorrow putting on the finishing touches, but for now it's clear... a local soldier will come home to something beautiful. A community that cares.
"I can tell you not even enough tears can be cried to thank all the people who have worked so hard today to put this down for me, because this is just... I'm getting goosebumps," Holt said.
We spoke to Gabriel Ramos, the landscaper Mrs. Holt paid $3,300.00 to. He says he will refund all of the money and would also like to make a donation to the company that donated the grass. He said there was a death in his family and he never meant for any of this to happen.