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Group Needs Help to Share Holiday Cheer With Soldiers

Give 2 the Troops sent 800 care packages of Christmas gifts – each with enough goodies for 10 soldiers – to war zones in 2006. The nonprofit wants to the same this year, but is short of both supplies and funds.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. — A local group that brings holiday cheer to troops deployed overseas has issued an urgent plea for help as its supplies are far below its goals.
The North Carolina branch of Give 2 the Troops sent 800 care packages during the Christmas season – each with enough goodies for 10 soldiers – to war zones in 2006. The nonprofit wants to the same this year, but only has donations enough for between 25 and 50 boxes.

"I'm panicked, because the troops depend on us," Barbara Whitehead, director of the state branch, said. She pointed to nearly empty warehouse shelves and bins and added, "I don't know how we're going to divide this among 8,000 troops."

The organization's bank account is almost empty, too. It cost $16,000 to ship boxes for Christmas last year, Whitehead said.

The shortage of money and supplies comes as the year-round operation enters its busiest season: Christmastime. Give 2 the Troops already has requests for holiday packages from 125 units, and Whitehead said she only expects that number to increase.

"Can you imagine being in the desert or in the mountains of Afghanistan, cold at night, away from your family and friends, with no recreation whatsoever, except what comes in a care package. No holiday food?" she said.

Whitehead said she did not know why people have stopped giving to the group, but speculated North Carolinians' sense of urgency about troops' needs might have abated with the return of the 82nd Airborne Division.

"For some reason, people have stopped resounding to the needs of our deployed military," she said.

Although Whitehead's Army son returned from war two weeks ago, she pointed out that more than 167,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq and 26,000 in Afghanistan.

"I don't want to send a message to the troops that North Carolina does not care," Whitehead said.

Businesses are encouraged to sponsor postage for a week or a month. Employees could also pack a stocking full of goodies.
Monetary donations, handwritten cards and letters can be sent to:

Give2TheTroops, Inc.
ATTN: Barbara Whitehead, NC Branch Director
3109 Landmark St.

Greenville, NC 27834

Needed Christmas Items
  • Stockings
  • Garland, miniature trees, ornaments, and other decorations
  • Pocket games, and board games
  • Electronic hand-held games
Other Popular Items
  • Protein-rich snacks, like peanuts, granola bars, sausage sticks, tuna in pouches, trail mix, exercise bars
  • Flavored drink mix pouches that simply be poured into a bottle or camel back of water.
  • Hard candy
  • Popcorn
  • Microwavable pasta bowls or macaroni-and-cheese
For other ideas, click here.