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It is with great anticipation we find ourselves once again approaching the holiday season.

At Blue Ridge Communications and Lehigh Valley Press, we take immense pride in our 14th year of participation in the Keystone Military Families Stockings For Soldiers initiative, a noble endeavor aimed at extending vital support to those who valiantly serve our nation, both abroad and on the home front.

This heartfelt initiative ensures our troops, during a time when we cherish togetherness, do not feel forgotten during the Christmas and holiday season.

KMF annually ships between 8,000 to 10,000 holiday stockings filled with donations of food, hygiene products and other items to our military personnel unable to return home for the holiday.

It’s a simple gesture, but it helps boost their spirits, demonstrates our caring support and shows how much we appreciate them and the service they provide.

Packages go to all branches of the military and to locations in Kuwait, Korea, Japan, Europe, ships at sea and any other troops who request support from home.

All items are sorted and packed according to the requests we get directly from the troops or their families.

Since we are gearing up for the holiday season, we have added the special holiday items to our list.

With requests increasing every year, KMF is looking to streamline its packaging and shipping operations to as many of our troops as possible.

All funds collected this year will help defray the cost of shipping the packages, as well as adding some extra purchased items to the stockings.

There are several ways to contribute.

Visit brctv.com/stockingsforsoldiers, select a monetary amount to donate and choose the payment option of either PayPal or debit/credit card.

We do recognize that many people enjoy donating actual items for this initiative.

We are accepting donations at our offices 1633 N. 26th St., Allentown, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are collecting donations through Nov. 13.

Items requested include:

·Christmas stockings: 18-24 inches in size, handmade or purchased;

·Christmas hats: Santa, reindeer or elf type;

·Paper or plastic Christmas decorations. No glass ornaments;

·Ground or instant coffee, Kcups and hot tea; coffee creamer and sugar packets;

·Hot chocolate or hot cider; power bars, cereal bars, trail mix, granola bars and healthy snacks; Slim Jims, beef or turkey jerky; sunflower seeds and nuts in small packages;

·Individual snacks such as crackers, cookies, cheese/cracker kits; peanut butter and jelly, individual size; candy canes;

·Small sewing and manicure kits;

·Sunscreen and Chap Stick with sunscreen, Blistex; aspirin, Tylenol and cold meds in small packages; vitamins, supplements and protein powder; 5-Hour Energy and similar products; and

·Men’s and ladies’ calf high socks or boot socks in black or white; hand and foot warmers and thermal gloves or glove liners.

U.S. Postal Service regulations do not allow anything in aerosol cans to be shipped. Also, keep expiration dates in mind when donating. Shipping takes about 14-21 days to the combat zones after donations are sorted, packed and shipped.

KMF has set up an Amazon KMF Wish List to allow you to purchase items to ship directly to their facility. This makes it easier and faster for KMF to get their “elves” packing the stockings for our military men and women.

For more information about this option and a link to the list, visit our Blue Ridge blog at brctv.com/blog/community and look for “Boosting spirits through Stockings For Soldiers.” They are accepting online donations through Nov. 30.

Our community has consistently exhibited tremendous generosity in contributing to this noble cause and we are confident this year will be no different.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Should you have any questions, contact Cindy Mellinger, Blue Ridge marketing and community relations coordinator, at 717-733-6006, ext. 2551 or myself at 610-740-0944, ext. 3705.