As holiday schedules get busy in the coming days and weeks, Blue Ridge Communications is asking the public to not forget those who have given so much.
Now in its third year of giving, Blue Ridge invites all to share in adding some of the warmth of the yuletide season with Keystone Soldiers and its Stockings for Soldiers program, by sending much needed and requested food and hygiene items and Christmas cards to our men and women spending Christmas away from home and stationed in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"We owe today's U.S. service members a debt that can never be repaid," says Julianne Farina, marketing/public relations coordinator for Blue Ridge Communications.
"Just think of the men and women serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. They are making tremendous sacrifices to serve our nation and keep America free."
In its 10th year of operation, the Stockings for Soldier program is 100 percent funded by public donations.
"Since the recession, the donations have diminished," says Farina. "As a result, they sometimes have items to ship, but no money to ship them, or they have the funds, but not donations. Here is where we can help! This year we want to stuff Christmas stockings with much needed items, to be sent to our soldiers just in time for Christmas."
The 2011 collection through Blue Ridge Communications was a huge success. Over $1,600 was raised for shipping, and close to two tons of items were collected for stuffing the stockings, as well as more than 1,700 cards for the soldiers.
"We appreciate your support for our troops and for Keystone Soldiers," Kyle Lord, founder of Keystone Soldiers, said after last year's collection. "I would like to thank the Pencor family for their amazing efforts for Keystone Soldiers and for our troops. We have never worked with a group of people who embraced our project with such commitment and vigor.
"It has been a wonderful experience and is appreciated from the bottom of my heart," Lord added. "This project would not have happened without your support. The employees and donors at Blue Ridge Communications were very special standouts over the holiday season. Their enthusiasm and dedication to our project was unparalleled. Thank you!"
Farina is hoping for the same kind of commitment from the public again this year.
"We would love to support our soldiers near and far," says Farina. "Please join us in recognizing and thanking our defenders of freedom."
Donations can be dropped off at any Blue Ridge Communications office before Nov. 14.
"All items are sorted and packed according to the requests we get directly from the troops or their families," adds Farina. "Since we are gearing up for the holiday season we have added the special holiday items to our list."
The following is a current Christmas Wish List for care packages, which will go to all branches of the military and to locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea and any other troops who request support from home. The asterisk designates items most needed or requested by the troops.
Ÿ Christmas stockings: 12-inch to 20-inch in size; handmade or purchased
Ÿ Christmas hats: Santa or elf type
Ÿ Paper or plastic Christmas decorations (no glass ornaments or lights)
Ÿ Ground or instant coffee and hot tea; coffee creamer and sugar packets too
Ÿ Power Bars, cereal bars, trail mix, granola bars and healthy snacks*
Ÿ Slim Jims, beef or turkey jerky
Ÿ Sunflower seeds and nuts
Ÿ Individual snacks like chips, crackers, cookies, cheese/cracker kits
Ÿ Peanut butter and jelly, small size plastic jars*
Ÿ Candy canes
Ÿ Small sewing kits and manicure kits
Ÿ Sunscreen and insect repellent*
Ÿ Chap Stick with sunscreen, Blistex
Ÿ Deodorant, travel size
Ÿ Foot Powder and foot cream for athlete's foot*
Ÿ Odor Eaters (for boots), Dr. Scholl's foot pads, blister pads
Ÿ Hand sanitizer, small size bottles to carry with them
Ÿ Men's and ladies' calf high socks or boot socks in black or white.
Ÿ Hand and foot warmers
Ÿ Thermal gloves or glove liners
Ÿ New or used game systems like PS3, PS2, WII, Xbox or Xbox 360
Ÿ Video games for the systems above or small hand-held games
Ÿ CDs and DVDs: New or used are fine. Current releases are appreciated*
Ÿ AT&T Global Pre-Paid Calling Cards* (available at www.aafes.com)
Ÿ Money for shipping costs. Monetary donations are strongly needed to help ship the care packages.
Please note that the U.S. Postal Service regulations do not allow anything in aerosol cans to be shipped. Shipping currently takes about 14-21 days to the combat zones. It takes about a week to get everything sorted and boxed, so please keep this in mind when you are checking expiration dates on food items.
Farina says they are currently not accepting any books.