"You got a letter in the mail today, and there is a package there for you too."
These words hold great promise any time of the year, but increasingly so when you realize the mailing deadlines for packages being sent to our nation's men and women in the military are literally just days away, the information takes on added importance.
Mail call: regardless whether you are five miles from home or five thousand miles from home, it is universally accepted as one of the most anticipated parts of almost any day of the year. Americans serving in our country's military - and their family and friends - see the coming holiday season as the reason to get well versed in what can be the fine details of the deadlines and regulations that accompany sending and receiving military personnel holiday packages and cards.
This is what a small part of more than 17,000 Christmas stockings looked like just before being stuffed. These boxes were sent during the last holiday season to the man and women of our country's military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This year the grassroots military support organization "Boatsie's Boxes" is about to put "Operation Christmas Stocking #8" into full swing, and organizers know it will take a small army to pull it off successfully.
The target number of stuffed holiday stockings to send on their way to friends and family in those far off lands is again a staggering 20,000.
Last year's effort to reach that same goal came within a stone's throw of success.
The annual heroic effort culminates in a day centered on volunteers stuffing, stacking and packing the Christmas stockings into large - heavy duty - packing boxes, each one proudly sporting the name "Boatsie's Boxes."
As our country's military men and women look at the 8th year of combat in the regions of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, a major change is happening: no Christmas stocking boxes are being sent to Iraq.
"This is a big change," reflected Janell Loh, of Boatsie's Boxes. "But there is still such a need to share messages of support for their efforts and sacrifices and Operation Christmas Stocking is one way we have been able to make their holiday season a bit brighter, particularly if they reach troops who happen to be stationed in forward operating bases, without chow halls or base stores."
"After 9 years of combat, our men and women need our love and support more than ever," offered military mother Gail VanVranken, aka "Boatsie." "Please join us on Saturday, Nov. 12 as we work together to brighten up the holidays for our heroes this Christmas."
Items to include in the stocking include:
Please help Boatsie with the shipping costs by placing $1 with the stocking (of course more is always gratefully accepted). Make checks payable to: Boatsie's Boxes, Inc. Group leaders and teachers collect money and give in one envelope. Check www.boatsie.com home page, news/events for updated information.
Work sessions are on Saturday, Nov. 12 will be from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. at the West Virginia National Guard Facility, near the Ohio County Airport. Feel free to bring a snack, lunch and drink. For more information about time to volunteer, call (304) 243-0675.
Stockings and donations can be sent to Boatsies Boxes, at 33 Forest Hills Drive, Wheeling, WV 26003. It is a nationally recognized, non-profit, 501(c)3 charity.