On the morning of Nov. 13, the volunteers at All Saints’ Episcopal Church were busy buying and packing for Operation Shoebox for U.S. soldiers serving overseas.
After receiving the goods and cash, the next chore was packing and labeling the products for delivery to the distribution center in Florida.
“This was so much fun shopping for our soldiers,” said Peg DeSantis, co-chair of the church outreach committee. “The back of the SUV was filled to the top with just enough room to make the drive to Florida for delivery.”
Members of the outreach committee wanted the soldiers to receive items they could use every day.
“I try to put myself in their shoes and figure out what I would want if I were in their situation which is very difficult to do,” DeSantis said. “Everything from socks, toenail clippers to DVDs and hairbrushes to canned foods and Christmas stockings are on the way now.”
After DeSantis made the trip to Bellview, Fla., she called co-chair Jill Bruce Cuningham, to report that the distribution center ships an average of 3,600 packages, or stockings, prior to the holidays.
DeSantis reported that soldiers are always short white socks and the volunteers at the center were able to place at least one pair in every package. Many of the volunteers are U.S. military veterans who also assist in running a thrift store on site which finances the overseas shipping.
The operation began nine years ago when its founder had seven member of her family serving overseas.
“They have tons of folders and keep every letter that soldiers send them,” Cuningham said. “We are thrilled with the success of this program, estimating that we shipped 2,500 “We at All Saints’ want to thank everyone who helped to make this a success.”