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Spread Christmas cheer - help fill Stockings for Soldiers!

MEYERSDALE - As the holiday season draws near, many are envisioning special times with family. However, for the brave men and women currently serving in the various branches of our Armed Forces, “home for the holidays,” is simply not possible. To help share that feeling of hearth and home, the administration, faculty, staff and students at Meyersdale Area School District is planning a special program - Stockings for Soldiers.

For more than five years, the District has been holding an annual food drive for soldiers.These items are boxed up and sent to men and women deployed throughout the world.  After welcoming back, School Resource Officer Ray Wilhelm from a deployment in Kuwait, organizers, Tammy Hetrick and Ginger Geiger, decided to make some adjustments to the program.

“When Officer Wilhelm returned he told us how much he appreciated items we sent but he also shared how many of his squad members did not enjoy the greetings from home. We knew then  we wanted to expand our efforts and focus our efforts on creating holiday packages that could be shared with men and women,” explained Hetrick. “This year, we want to expand our program to include men and women from throughout Somerset County who are serving. We are asking people in our community and throughout the area to provide us with the names and addresses of loved one serving in the military.”

Names and addresses can be sent to the Meyersdale School District via email at ggeiger@masd.net or thetrick@masd.net. The deadline to submit names is November 22, this ensures that packages can be shipped in time for Christmas.

 “Officer Wilhelm also shared with us that some items are more useful for men and women serving in primitive living conditions,” Hetrick added.

As such a more specific list of items has been created that better reflects the needs of the men and women serving. The items requested for the stockings for Soldiers Drive includes the following items: toothpaste, toothbrushes, puzzle books, magazines, card games, candy canes, individually wrapped hard candy, bubble gum, protein, granola and breakfast bars, sunflower seeds, trail mix, individual cookie or pretzel packets, beef jerky, single packet  flavored drink mixes, and personal care items, such as shaving cream, razors, deodorant, chapstick and sunscreen.

Officer Wilhelm said many of these items are in short supply, particularly for men and women serving in remote areas. He said receiving care packages is truly something he and his fellow soldiers loved receiving.

“I especially enjoyed receiving items such as bubble gum and small sports items such as frisbees or footballs. We often do have down time and it's nice to have something to do. I also really appreciate receiving battery-powered lights and decorations. It’s hard to be away from home during the holidays and anything like that really helped to cheer you up,” Wilhelm explained. “There were many who did not receive packages, but those who did would share.”

According to Geiger the cost for items to mail has increased dramatically in the past year. As a result, organizers are requesting monetary donations in addition to or in place of donated items. 

“The cost to mail one large box is now $19.95. In years past, we have had local organizations provide us with cash donations to cover this postage costs,” explained Geiger. “We have always appreciated the support shown by our District and community but we are hoping as we expand our program to include men and women from throughout the County, additional support will be shown.”

A homeroom competition has been set up for students in grades six through 12. The homeroom bringing in the most donations, monetary and items, will receive a pizza party for their efforts!

Community donations may be brought to the Meyersdale Area High School office or sent with a student. If you would like to submit a name of a local soldier please contact Ginger Geiger at ggeiger@masd.net.   If you would like to make a monetary donation, please contact Tammy Hetrick at 814-634-1437 X338 or via email at thetrick@masd.net.

Please consider helping us spread the holiday spirit to our brave men and women serving during the Christmas season and help us with Stockings for Soldiers!