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Mt. Juliet Elementary stuffs stockings for soldiers

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 8, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Kindergarten classes at Mt. Juliet Elementary are making sure troops in Afghanistan are taken care of for Christmas.

Friday, the school held “Operation Military Christmas Stockings,” where five kindergarten classes totaling about 100 students helped stuff Christmas stockings to send overseas to soldiers.

Faculty, volunteers, veterans and Director of Schools Tim Setterlund lined the kindergarten hall of the school and created stations for students to stop and pick up items to fill their stockings.

Kindergarten teacher Linda Gay, who organized the event within the school, said she’s been telling her students about what all this means for a while to help them better understand.

“I tried to explain why this has to been done so early. I got out my globe and showed them how the airplane would have to fly this stuff all the way around the world, and they were just amazed,” Gay said.

Gay said the event started years ago because her nephew, who’s in the Navy, was going to have to be away for the first time for Christmas.

Gay said the school stuffs stockings every other year and has been doing it for 10 years.

Originally they sent 200 small plastic stockings, according to Gay, but that wasn’t nearly enough.

“My sister-in-law gets all of the stockings, and this year we’ve got 500 to send,” Gay said.

She also said that every item sent, and even the shipping, is donated.

Items used to stuff the stockings included Slim Jims, toothpaste, sunflower seeds, gum, candy, cookies, chips, crackers, travel-size toiletries and individual drink packets, such as Crystal Light, among other things.

Gay said all the stockings will be sent to Afghanistan this year, and the stockings will probably be sent Friday or Saturday.

“I’ve received calls and emails in the past, thanking us, from soldiers who’ve received the stockings,” Gay said. “It’s just something to make Christmas a little brighter for them.”

Master Sgt. Josh Hanson, whose stepson is in kindergarten at the school, then presented a flag from the Air Force to the school.

The flag was flown on May 2 during a Combat Sortie aboard an Air Force A-10C Warthog assigned to the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the “World Famous Flying Tigers,” in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

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