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Holiday cheer for troops overseas
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Don’t let September’s warm weather fool you.

While the summer may have just ended, the Soldiers’ Angels of Georgia’s 2007 "Christmas for the Troops" stocking drive project is already well underway, calling on Bryan County and surrounding areas to help make the holiday season a little brighter for those overseas.

Already in its third year, this year’s effort is the biggest yet, with somewhere around 20,000 Georgia-based troops deployed in war zones, the Soldiers’ Angels release said.

"We’re getting into the time where we really need to get our final donations," Project Manager Betsy Rhodes said.

The group is asking local businesses, schools, churches, civic organizations and local residents to help make this Christmas season a little more special for the troops. The project prepares holiday "stockings" to send deployed soldiers who are going to be spending the winter season in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are getting to the point where we have to do inventory – we have to make sure that we have exactly 20,000 of everything – and there are only a handful of us to count it all up," Rhodes said.

The "stockings" are gift bags full of comfort/useful items for soldiers in the desert war zones. Each bag includes socks, a stainless-steel travel mug filled with candy, hot chocolate, lip balm, a pen, a toothbrush, a pocket-sized entertainment item, a snack food, and signed holiday cards from the community.

"Big items that we still need are snack items, anything individually wrapped like granola bars, cracker packages, or peanuts. Chips aren’t good, they get crushed," Rhodes said.

She said the project also still needs about 10,000 packets of hot chocolate and more "fun" entertainment items.

There are a number of ways the community can help:

- Five dollars puts a stocking in one soldier’s hand; $10 makes two stockings, and so on. Mailed donations can be made payable to "Soldiers’ Angels," and sent to Soldiers’ Angels of GA, Attn: Betsy Rhodes, 22 Mapmaker La., Savannah, 31410. Please write "2007 Christmas Project" in the check’s memo. Donation receipts are available for tax purposes.

- Holiday greeting cards are an important part of the gift and an opportunity for the public to directly send gratitude and holiday wishes to the troops; unlimited cards from schools churches and other groups, as well as private citizens, are all welcomed. Soldiers’ Angels requests all messages remain supportive and non-political.

Rhodes said cards from children are always very special to a soldier.

- Businesses are invited to donate imprinted promotional items in any amount, such as pens, stress balls, notepads, small LED flashlights, beach balls, etc. Dentists’ offices/supply companies are welcome to donate bulk amounts of sample toothpastes, etc.

- Large groups and businesses may also choose to sponsor in-house drives among their employees and customers to collect stocking items or funds.

There are three local collection points for drop-offs and donations in Georgia:

The Pembroke United Methodist Church, 102 N. College Street, 653-2220; Nesmith Chevrolet, 1559 E. Oglethorpe Hwy., Hinesville, 876-212; and Dan Vaden Chevrolet, 9393 Abercorn Street, Savannah, 925-9393.

For more information, call Rhodes at 507-8640.


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