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Holiday Socks for Soldiers being sewn for troops in Afghanistan

Contributions needed for anything from lip balm to postage costs

Donna Woodward, Tom Davidson, and Leslie Gibbs will be shipping out 500 stuffed stockings to U.S. Marines serving with the 2/9 Fox Company in Afghanistan. Among the places you can drop off donations are the Dollar Tree and U.P.S. Stores in North Conway. Sara Young-Knox. (click for larger version)
October 07, 2010
Three local Marines are serving with the 2/9, including Kennett High School graduate Lance Corporal Jeremy Gibbs, son of Charlie Gibbs of Freedom and Leslie Gibbs of Fryeburg. The unit's home base is Camp Lejeune, N.C., but in times like this, all soldiers are family, and a group of greater Mt. Washington Valley citizens hope to put together 500 care packages to send over to Afghanistan, but they need your help.

The call is going out for contributions for the stockings, for everything from lip balm, hard candies, gum, AT&T phone cards, and combat boot socks to odor eaters, razors, foot powder and sunflower seeds. The Marines are often away from their camp base for days at a time and carry everything they need in their packs, so the Holiday Socks for Soldiers effort is asking for small items that can be useful under any living condition.

Help is also needed to sew, stuff and package the stockings, and donations are needed to cover half of the expected $1000 shipping cost. The UPS Store in North Conway has generously offered to donate the other $500, and Tom Davidson of the store has agreed to accept donated items at the store. The Dollar Tree in North Conway, a handy place to pick up items, will also have a basket for donations, as will other locations around the Valley.

Spearheaded by Donna Woodward and Gibbs' mother, Leslie Gibbs, both of Fryeburg, the local Socks for Soldiers got its start at the Tom-A-Palooza event held recently to benefit Tom Eastman. Upon learning that Gibbs's son was in Afghanistan, Woodward introduced Gibbs to former N.H. State Senator Joe Kenney. As a Marine, Kenney had been deployed overseas and knows the conditions. He talked with Gibbs for 45 minutes, after which the idea came about to send all of the Marines in her son's unit care packages.

The group has an ambitious schedule, and is asking for help in accomplishing this goal. "Time is of the essence," Woodward says, noting that it will take several weeks for the shipment to get to Afghanistan, so in order for the boxes to get there by the holidays they need to be sent by early November.

On Oct. 16, from 2 to 6 p.m., a local sewing group will meet at the town-owned American Legion Hall on Bradley Street in Fryeburg to sew the socks from fabric donated by Royetta Reuning of Conway. Volunteers are asked to bring their own sewing machine and fabric scissors.

Far away from their loved ones, the Marines will also be getting some cheerful holiday messages from home that will be sure to warm their hearts. Elementary school children from SAD #72 and SAU #9 are busy adding bright colors to pre-made cards, on which they will write notes to each soldier, signing their names for that personal touch.

The list is long of those who have already stepped up to the plate, but stuffing stockings is a big project, and more help is welcome. Checks and cash can be dropped off at the UPS Store, which will then be credited to the Socks for Soldiers account. The UPS Store is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To find out more information on how you can contribute to this cause, or to volunteer your skills and time, call Woodward at 207-935-3959, 207-441-8170, or contact her through email at donnawbe@gmail.com. Co-organizer Gibbs can be reached at 303-734-8823.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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