BELLWOOD - Men and women serving in the U.S. military can't easily get cookies, potato chips or affirmation that they are conducting meaningful work while at war in the Middle East.
But they can find all of those things and more in a stocking from a Myers Elementary School student this Christmas.
The school's students were rallied Thursday in the school cafeteria by Santa Claus, who is depending on them to be his helpers in packing 600 stockings with treats, letters and pictures for service members overseas.
It will be the second year the school participates in Military Families Ministry's Stockings for Soldiers project, co-founded by Tracie Ciambotti of Bellwood. Ciambotti's son has served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I know how much families and soldiers appreciate this support," she said.
Receiving gifts from children while serving in the Middle East is a morale booster, Bellwood-Antis parent and U.S. Army Reserves veteran Tami Clark said.
"It's evidence that we are where we are supposed to be," said Clark, who was a supply-truck driver with the 629th Transportation Company out of Clearfield during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Bellwood-Antis students have relatives who've served in the military over the last decade. Fifteen children stood up Thursday to be recognized by teachers and their classmates because their parents and relatives are veterans.
The school's 500-plus students will begin packing stockings with their donated treats Nov. 15. The stockings will first be delivered to soldiers from the local community.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.