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U.S.S.S. to send holiday gifts to troops overseas

Wanting to say thank you to the men and women serving overseas, Teresa Manna and the stockings for sailors and soldiers program is preparing to ship items for the third year.

Katherine O’Connor Savant is a Navy Chief and was stationed with the Army in Iraq during the holiday times in 2010.

She told her mother Manna, many did not receive presents or gifts during the holiday season. This sparked an idea for Manna and the United Stockings Sailors Soldiers (U.S.S.S.) was formed.

“Freedom isn’t free,” said Manna. “Someone have to pay for it. We need to say thank you.”

In 2010, Lockport and the surrounding Western New York areas donated enough items in 10 days to fill more than 800 stockings. In 2011, 4,487 holiday stockings and more than 6,000 cards and letters were sent to soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Korea, Italy and three deployed naval ships.

Items in stockings are sent to all five branches of the United States military.

Throughout the year, members of the community, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, schools and more have been decorating the stockings that will be sent overseas.

“No two are alike,” said Manna. “Everyone gets a different stocking.”

This year was the first time Manna and volunteers have been working year round to collect donations and gain support from the community. They have been in parades around Western New York to help gather support.

The next parade will be the Newfane holiday parade Dec. 7. Volunteers are always needed to help with parades.

“It’s amazing to see what the community does and how they support the troops,” she said.

Manna said all items that are to big too ship are donated back to the community to local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and Toys for Tots.

“We have to give back,” said Manna.

Items in need include reflective items, toothbrushes, soap, lip gloss, game books, clear nail polish, hair ties, combs, lighters, cigars, t-shirts, chips, gum, crackers, shaving cream, small hand tools, batteries, flash lights, gloves, hats, shampoo, conditioner and small, fun adult games.

Manna said hot sauce is also a needed item, used to make their food taste better. She said they also like sidewalk chalk to draw on concrete walls.

Items soldiers receive they might not need, like contact solution, Manna said they trade with those who will use the item.

U.S.S.S. is also looking for addresses from any soldiers stationed overseas. They will be contacted to ask if they would receive a package.

Those receiving a package will receive anywhere from 50 to 500 stockings. They will also receive a Santa hat and get to take the stockings around to others they are serving with on their base. Those who don’t receive items from home will be given stockings first.

“They know who doesn’t get anything,” said Manna.

All items for donation are requested around Nov. 24. All items will be shipped on Dec. 7, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“They’re so happy when they get them,” she said. “There are no Walmarts, no Targets and no drug stores they can go to.”

To help raise funds for shipping and other costs, Stockings for Soldiers will hold the first annual Veterans Day fund-raiser. The spaghetti dinner will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 75 East Ave., Lockport.

The dinner will feature an all American made basket raffle, 50/50, door prizes and the Bills game. Santa will also be in attendance at the event.

A bake sale will be held on Nov. 17 at Tops in Lockport. There, apple and pumpkin pies will be sold for $10 and other items are available for any donation.

Donated items can be dropped of at 33 Franklin St., in Lockport, at the door marked for deliveries.

People with military addresses, wishing to volunteer or wishing to donate can also contact Manna at 439-0407.


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