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Stockings for Soldiers collection begins

The Lehigh Valley Press will once again begin collecting items to send to military personnel who will be stationed away from home for the holidays.

Even in the midst of a pandemic in 2020, the generosity of community members contributed to another successful Stockings for Soldiers effort. In 2020, we surpassed $22,000 in monetary donations (to help purchase items needed and cover shipping costs), collected 3,000 pounds of stocking stuffer donations (including food, hygiene and other requested items) and received over 17,500 signed cards with personalized Christmas greetings showing support to our military personnel, according to Cindy Mellinger, Blue Ridge Cable marketing, community relations coordinator and Stockings for Soldiers Central PA project coordinator.

Still proceeding with an abundance of caution, we will host a day where we will accept donations in person in our parking lot, 1633 N. 26th St., Allentown. We will update readers with a date for that collection.

The last day for collections at our office will be Nov. 12 to allow enough time to pack the stockings for shipment.

This year, the following items have been requested: non-perishable items include pocket tissues, manicure sets, sewing kits, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental floss/dental picks, razors, hand and foot warmers, body lotion, body wash, soap (travel size), deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream packets, tampons, feminine napkins, tube socks (black/white only), cough drops, Advil (individual packets), Tylenol (individual packets), Aleve (individual packets), allergy medicines (individual packets), sinus medicines, (individual packets), Chapstick, Blistex, playing cards, small peg board games, ornaments (unbreakable), small stuffed animals, signed Christmas cards with messages, new boxed Christmas cards (unsigned), prayer squares, Band-Aids, insect spray (non-aerosol), Christmas stockings, quart-size baggies, purse size wet wipes and sun screen (non-aerosol).

Perishable items include: ramen noodles (packets), coffee (K-Cups, single serve), hot cider (single serve), hot chocolate (single serve), sugar packets (regular/sweeteners), tea bags, breakfast cereal bars, granola bars, protein bars, Slim Jims/beef sticks, beef jerky, chewing gum, candy (individually wrapped), chips (snack size), cookies (snack size), peanut butter (to go), jelly (single serve), cheese crackers (individual), peanut butter crackers (individual), pretzels (snack size), nuts (individual serve packets) and sunflower seeds (individual).

Keystone Military Families is requesting we not send hand sanitizer or anything in aerosol cans. They also ask that we check expiration dates.

Collections are coordinated and distributed by Keystone Military Families in Shoemakersville. Monetary donations are always accepted made payable to Keystone Military Families. In the memo line, write Stockings for Soldiers.

“In 2020, we shipped 7,240 to overseas locations and 1,850 to bases in the U.S. that were on no travel orders. For a year with a pandemic, businesses closed and people locked at home for months we are truly grateful for all the support shown for our troops. Many days I have been in my office with tears of gratitude in my eyes, totally overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone involved,” Kyle Lord, director, Stockings for Soldiers, said.

For questions regarding Stockings for Soldiers, contact Debbie Galbraith, editor, East Penn Press and Salisbury Press by calling 610-740-0944, ext. 3705 or via email at dgalbraith@tnonline.com.

This message is received from the family of a woman on her first deployment. “On behalf of myself and my daughter I would like to say thank you to everyone and all of the volunteers for making her Christmas this year. She joined the Navy in May [2020] and her first deployment was overseas; this is her first year unable to spend it with family. When she received these stockings, she cried, she felt so loved and thankful. Thank you again for all you do for all of our military families. It does matter and means the world to them, you are all angels.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
This message is received from military personnel in Germany: “Shout out to the amazing people who sent some holiday joy to the service members in Germany who typically don't get care packages. There are so many service members in isolation due to COVID-19 this year and so many who are away from their families this Christmas.”
Military personnel stationed in the Middle East show the stockings they received in 2020.
ABOVE: This box of goodies is packed and shipped to military personnel serving away from home during Christmas 2020.
This photo shows the Artillery Brigade overseas getting ready to celebrate the holidays.
RIGHT: This box is packed with stockings stuffed with requested items.
Cartons of stockings are ready to be sent to the troops in 2020.