Santa's Soldiers is sponsored by Operation Support Our Troops, a National organization headquartered in Sammamish, Wash., which was founded in 2003 by mothers of a couple of deployed soldiers.

They started “Holidays from Home” which includes Valentine's Day, Easter, July 4, and Christmas where scores of volunteers band together to send a little bit of Christmas to the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan by making stockings and filling them with goodies. Because OSOT adopts entire deployed units, the need for more volunteers increases each year.

Cindy Paul's son, Adam Eldred, is deployed in Iraq and will be spending a second Christmas away from his family. When Paul discovered OSOT and the Santa's Soldiers project, she contacted Sheryl Shaeffer, OSOT co-founder, to see how she could help.

OSOT adopted Adam's unit of 150 soldiers, increasing their need for stockings to 10,000. Paul wanted to help and told a few friends about the project.

Word spread quickly and 40 women devoted their time, energy, and talents. The result was 300 handcrafted stockings which included a special message “Thank you from Ada, OK. The stockings were mailed to OSOT headquarters where they were filled with candy and gifts and shipped to the soldiers in time for Christmas.

OSOT exceeded its goal with more than 16,000 stockings being made from across the country. The excess stockings sent to wounded soldiers in hospitals.

Eldred’s unit has already received its stockings and the soldiers were thrilled as well as grateful that people thought about them and appreciate them.

OSOT posts responses they receive from the soldiers at their website.

Local women who helped make stockings are Renae Cochran, Kelly Bates, Colene Alexander, Chursey Fountain, Martie Williams, Barbara Marion, Rebecca Foster, Shauna Bennett, Pat Mallan, Lynda Callaway, Lisa Hudson, Mary Sue, Peyton, and Piper McNeil, Betty Blalock, Pat Bush, Sue Kessinger, Linda Jackson, Becky Butler, Sandra Saye, Susan Mravik, Cherri, Cheyenne, and Sheridan Adair, Pam Daggs, Jean Abbott, Cindy Paul, Sandra Mackey, Merlene Wolfe, Judy Hanks, Kay and Toni Prince, Cheryl Morgan, Marcy Gray, Lori Gray, Linda Jackson, Shauna Bennett, Chrischel Green, Shanna Wood, Jeanie Davis, Kasey Davis, Kathy Edwards, Emily and Katie Estes, Vickie Grissom and Karen Muck.

For more information on how you can support the troops, visit www.osot.org or contact Cindy Paul at (580) 759-5176.

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