Bethlehem Press

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Readers invited to participate in ‘Stickings for Soldiers’

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by The Press in Local News

The Lehigh Valley Press invites you to share some of the warmth of the yuletide season with Keystone Military Families and their Stockings for Soldiers program.

Keystone Military Families’ mission is to provide caring support for deployed military members in all branches of service to our country; no matter where they are stationed in the world. “Our troops give us the freedom to be safe in our homes,” Keystone Military Families said.

Keystone Military Families provides care packages, special holiday packages, letters, cards and more to raise the spirits of the troops, with some of the small comforts of home that we enjoy every day.

Kyle Lord, founder, began the program in 2002, when her son’s unit was being deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Lord created a website where friends and family could keep in touch with their loved ones overseas and soldiers could see things were also being taken care of at home. Other units from Pennsylvania began asking if they too could use the website. By 2003, Lord was receiving requests from military families asking for basic essentials to be shipped to the troops.

To date, this initiative has helped thousands of troops serving our country, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but all over the world, even in the U.S. All requests come directly from the troops, their families or someone who knows a military member who could use some support from home.

Each package is custom made depending on the needs and request of the troops.

“Our mission is to provide love, support and encouragement to anyone who is in need,” Lord said. “No request is ever turned away. We always have names on our list waiting for packages to arrive. While there are technically less troops deployed, there are also less support groups sending packages. We are a 100 percent volunteer nonprofit organization and we ship packages monthly as long as finances allow.”

“There will be between 19,000 to 22,000 troops in the Middle East region during the 2018 holiday season and another 28,000 in Korea,” Lord said. “No matter how you count or how you look at the situation there are still plenty of troops who need some support and love from home. We are setting our goal to ship 10,000 stuffed stockings to our heroes far from home in 2018. In 2017, we surpassed our goal and shipped 10,022 stockings all over the world thanks to the continued support of our hometown communities and local businesses.”

In its 16th year of operation, the Stockings for Soldiers program at Keystone Military Families is now underway.

Cindy Mellinger, Blue Ridge Communications marketing/community relations coordinator is handling the donations for the Pencor family of companies, which includes The Lehigh Valley Press. Debbie Galbraith, editor, East Penn Press and Salisbury Press, is coordinating donations in the Lehigh Valley.

“Please join us in our ninth year of recognizing and thanking the defenders of our freedom by filling Christmas stockings with the much needed items requested by our troops,” Mellinger said. “As in previous years, we have also sent Christmas cards, with messages of hope and cheer.

“Last year our collection weighed in at over 8,600 pounds of donations, including food, hygiene and other requested items, over 15,000 cards and $25,500 for shipping,” Mellinger said. “What an amazing show of kindness and support. Our goal is to once again exceed last year’s totals.”

We invite our readers to drop off donated items between Oct. 1 and Nov. 9 to ensure the troops receive their stocking by Christmas.

A list of requested care package items can be found at www.keystonesmilitaryfamilies.org or www.facebook.com/KeystoneMilitaryFamilies.

For questions, contact Galbraith at 610-740-0944, ext. 3705.