The Fort Mill-based Army National Guard's 1222nd Combat Engineers unit came home for a week around Christmas - in large part because of a $25,000 donation from Lowe's Home Improvement - before leaving for Afghanistan.
The soldiers received toolboxes, drills, all kinds of good stuff in a gift of corporate generosity as they received a hero's welcome at the Fort Mill store.
Staff Sgt. Larry "Jason" Sims, and his wife, Kristin, well, they got a little bit more.
"We have a 'Lowe's baby,'" laughed Kristin Sims.
Never miss a local story.
Brennan Sims, born Sept. 8, is a "Lowe's baby" because math does not lie. Lowe's, and love, brought the world the joy that is Brennan Sims.
During December - while the 105-member unit from Fort Mill and another unit from the Spartanburg area were training in Wisconsin before deployment - Lowe's donated $25,000 to help Sims and 200-plus soldiers get a bus home for a week's leave.
There was a huge "Welcome Home" ceremony at the Fort Mill store on Dec. 23, then soldiers left with their gifts from the home improvement chain for some family time, rest and relaxation.
And, um, recreation. What happened before Sims left Jan. 1 to go back to training, and then Afghanistan, was, well...
"We got pregnant," Kristin Sims said. "I found out for sure the day he left for Afghanistan a few days later in January."
The couple already had two sons, Graham, 8, and Brigham, almost 2. Kristin spent the next few months readying for son No. 3 while doing the house and hustle work of two parents - while Jason spent those months clearing Afghan roads of bombs.
For medical reasons, Kristin had to deliver the baby early in September. Jason was able to get emergency leave from Afghanistan and arrive home just before Kristin went to the hospital.
Brennan was born healthy on Sept. 8. Staff Sgt. Sims returned to Afghanistan a few days later.
Sims and the rest of the Fort Mill unit are scheduled to return home Friday after a year's deployment. The unit is currently going through post-deployment processing at Fort Dix, N.J., after leaving Afghanistan late last week.
So many families are waiting impatiently for their soldiers to get home.
Especially the family with the 'Lowe's baby" - and all the people who have grown to love that baby in six short weeks.
During the deployment, the families of soldiers in the unit have sometimes eaten together, cried together and helped each other through tough times.
That Christmas leave paid for by the community and Lowe's was a great gift to families, said Wanda Bennett, mother of a soldier and president of the Family Readiness Group.
The wives and mothers and daughters of soldiers in Jason Sims' unit are almost all calling Brennan Sims the "Lowe's baby."
"We all had a great Christmas," Bennett said, "but the Sims family, they ended up with a Lowe's baby from that leave."
Employees at the Fort Mill store, spurred on by donations from the community to bring the soldiers home for Christmas, brought up the idea to get Lowe's to donate, too.
Many employees even volunteered to help during the Welcome Home" event.
The news that a baby was conceived during that leave was greeted with cheers by Mike Gross, one of the managers at the Fort Mill store.
"Great!" Gross said. "I knew that was a great idea to help get the soldiers home - but a Lowe's baby!"