Brashinger: ‘Stockings for our Troops’ program underway again
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalist/jebvv.@comcast.net October 31, 2013 1:44PM
Mokena Daisy Troop 610 joined hundreds of other volunteers on Veterans Day last year to prepare care packages for troops overseas through the Mokena Park District's "Stockings for our Troops" program. | Supplied photo
Updated: December 4, 2013 6:11AM
Deployed men and women in the military will again be remembered during the holidays through “Stockings for our Troops,” the Mokena Park District program in its sixth year working with Operation Care Package, a nonprofit volunteer group that provides military personnel with mail and donated items.
Mary Beth Windberg, the park district’s recreation superintendent, said people of all ages, residents and nonresidents, are invited to decorate holiday stockings for the troops at the Oaks Recreation Center, 10847
LaPorte Road, Mokena, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
The stockings and other donations will be sent to Operation Care Package’s Joliet center, where individual care packages will be prepared and sent to the troops in time for the holidays.
Not to be forgotten in 2013, our fearless four-legged soldiers will be added to the list of beneficiaries.
“We’re sending packages to military working dogs and their handlers,” Windberg said. ““I just thought it was a nice addition … something that people don’t really think about is the animals that are involved. It’s a very dangerous thing that they do.”
Windberg said a Facebook page about military dogs and their handlers encouraged her to add them to the program.
“They’re always on the forefront. They’re just as important as our troops,” she said.
Pitching in to meet an additional need doesn’t concern the Mokena Park District staff, Windberg said. She said the park district’s art teacher, Petey Winkleman, and a few “friends come every week and work all year round” to make 800 to 1,000 stockings with fabric that the group and others donate to the cause.
“It’s really a labor of love on their part,” Windberg said.
Although the stockings are provided, she said the many private donations of essential and recreational items on the “wish list” really make a difference.
”You name it, people bring it,” Windberg said. “Besides the stockings, when we send it off to Operation Care Package we have thousands of items donated to go with them. They actually prepare the stockings so everything is equitable … every troop basically gets the same thing.”
Windberg said the park district program was set up in 2008 at the administrative building, but “it was so successful, we had to move it to the Oaks (Recreation Center).”
The space now includes coloring stations for children and letter writing and card stations so people can send personal notes of appreciation with the stockings they decorate.
For a list of items needed by our troops or for more information about “Stockings for our Troops,” visit www.mokenapark.com or call Windberg at (708) 390-2409.
For more information about Operation Care Package, visit www.operationcarepackages.org, call Debbie at (815) 723-6960 or email ProudArmySis4@sbcglobal.net.
For more information about military dogs and their handlers, visit Military Working Dogs at www.facebook.com/MilitaryWorkingDogs.