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Stockings for Soldiers is a great success!

MEYERSDALE - The first annual Stockings for Soldiers was a huge hit! Students at the Meyersdale Area High and Middle Schools donated thousands of items for local brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces. The District has held a food drive for soldiers for many years but decided to revamp the initiative this year to bring a bit more holiday spirit to these brave women and men. 

Organizers, Tammy Hetrick and Ginger Geiger, said they were overwhelmed by the level of generosity demonstrated by the students, staff and faculty and the community . 

“We were able to send over 75 boxes to be shared with over 150 men and women, from Somerset County, who are serving in our Armed Forces,” explained Hetrick. 

Items collected for these special men and women included: 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.

The homerooms donating the most items were rewarded with a pizza party, generously provided by Best Way Pizza and Domino Pizza. The top homerooms were Vo-Tech students in the high school; and Mrs. Candace Donaldson in the middle school. Competition was so fierce and the number of items so impressive, the runner-ups, Mrs. Tammy Edwards’  and Mr. Mike Swank’s homeroom were also rewarded with a root beer float party. 

To offset the rising costs of postage, letters were also sent to local businesses and organizations requesting cash donations. This also proved to be a successful effort, as several area businesses and organizations generously contributed to Stockings for Soldiers, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Robert Walker Post 7295; Giant Eagle, Route 30; American Legion Post 279; The Retreat Salon and Day Spa; SS Philip & James Family Life Committee; VFW Central City Post 7457; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Somerset Post 5544; David & Kathy Hay; Lisa Lazzari-Straiser; Curtis & Martha Kerns; Hollsopple VFW Post 8861; VFW Home Association Post 8826; and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Stockings for Soldiers also received a very generous donation from an anonymous donor. 

“We cannot say enough how much we appreciated the generosity of our community,” Hetrick added.

Hetrick and Geiger said they hope to see more names submitted for next year’s drive.

“This effort hits close to home for me as my son is in the U.S. Army. We have been lucky that he has not been deployed overseas, but it is difficult to have him far from home for the holidays. I think about how hard it must be for those brave men and women to be so far away from home,  especially for those overseas. As a mom, that makes my heart hurt because to me, family is everything.” Hetrick explained. “We want to make sure they all know they are in our thoughts, hearts and prayers.”

Stockings for Soldiers required a great deal of planning and work to execute, both by organizers and students, but for all involved, it was a true labor of love. Students assisted organizers in collecting, organizing and packing the boxes to be mailed. The Meyersdale Area School District is deeply appreciative of the support shown to this project and grateful for the continued support of the community. 

“I am so grateful that your sons, daughters, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and grandparents chose to serve in this great nations armed forces.  Coming from a family with several service members and working in a school district, I know and see how families are affected due to the absence of loved ones.” Geiger stated. “ I would like to wish the many family members sitting home this Christmas without their loved ones a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  You are in my thoughts and prayers this holiday season.”