Operation Santa USMC began when two Marine moms from Oregon realized that the holiday season would be a hard time for them while their sons were away, but much harder for their sons who would be gone for the first time during the holidays and in a war zone.
Operation Santa started out as Christmas-in-a-box for a platoon of 30 Marines. Within two months it grew to 6,000 Marines receiving packages in the first year. Since that first year the Marine Corps Family Foundation volunteers have sent more than 50,000 filled holiday stockings to deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mimi Rhyne and myself first kicked off this ministry in Lincoln County in late 2008. The first year we sent 102 stockings to deployed Marines. The next year we sent 331 stockings followed by 600 in 2010 and 1000 in 2011. This year our goal is 1500 stockings to Marines on the front lines in Afghanistan. Both Mimi and I have had sons deploy to Afghanistan and realized the importance of support from back home.
The items we put in each stocking include socks, wipes, foot powder, toothpaste, toothbrush, eye wash, razors, handwarmers, granola bars, nuts, gum, hard candy, Slim Jims and a few other items. We also send at least one Christmas card with each stocking.
Without the help of our community, this would not be possible. We need items for the stockings and monetary donations to help with the shipping expenses. Last year the shipping costs for 1000 stockings was $4000. Donations are tax deductible and checks may be made to Marine Corps Family Foundation Attn: Wanda Patton, 2740 Gold Rush Drive, Lincolnton, NC 28092.
The deadline to receive donations and stocking items is October 12 so that the necessary items can be gathered for our packing party on November 3 at Calvary Baptist Church in Lincolnton.
If anyone has any questions or would like to collect items for Operation Santa they can call (704) 735-6324.