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The Woodbury Community Foundation has partnered with the Minnesota Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) Family Readiness Group, and White Bear Lake resident Lori Ahlness, to collect donations for soldiers serving overseas.

Stuffing stockings for soldiers

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Minnesota soldiers in Afghanistan will be getting a little holiday cheer when stockings are mailed off to them next month.

The Woodbury Community Foundation has teamed up with the Minnesota Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) Family Readiness Group to collect donations to be included in stockings to be mailed over to the National Guard unit.

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Woodbury resident Davin Fischer is currently serving in the unit.

"It's got to be really hard to be apart during the holidays," WCF Executive Director Alisa Rabin Bell said. "The soldiers do so much important work for our country and sacrifice so much - we'll do what we can when we can.

"We're really proud to partner on this project."

The WCF will be collecting razors, travel size shaving cream, travel size shampoos, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sample size coffees, gum, candy, small packets of nuts, cards and other miscellaneous items through Friday at Woodbury's Bremer Bank building.

Lake Middle School is also lending a helping hand with its "Operation Holiday Cheer project." Students at LMS are hoping to collect care items, books, DVDS, phone cards, letters and snacks to be sent to soldiers currently serving overseas. All items can be dropped off at the school.

The stocking project was started by White Bear Lake resident Lori Ahlness, whose husband Eric is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Woodbury Community Foundation collecting items for troops

By Amber Kispert-Smith

akispert@woodburybulletin.com

Minnesota soldiers in Afghanistan will be getting a little holiday cheer when stockings are mailed off to them next month.

The Woodbury Community Foundation has teamed up with the Minnesota Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) Family Readiness Group to collect donations to be included in stockings to be mailed over to the National Guard unit.

Woodbury resident Davin Fischer is currently serving in the unit.

"It's got to be really hard to be apart during the holidays," WCF Executive Director Alisa Rabin Bell said. "The soldiers do so much important work for our country and sacrifice so much - we'll do what we can when we can.

"We're really proud to partner on this project."

The WCF will be collecting razors, travel size shaving cream, travel size shampoos, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sample size coffees, gum, candy, small packets of nuts, cards and other miscellaneous items through Friday at Woodbury's Bremer Bank building.

Lake Middle School is also lending a helping hand with its "Operation Holiday Cheer project." Students at LMS are hoping to collect care items, books, DVDS, phone cards, letters and snacks to be sent to soldiers currently serving overseas. All items can be dropped off at the school.

The stocking project was started by White Bear Lake resident Lori Ahlness, whose husband Eric is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Ahlness' husband is the commander of 24 soldiers who are a part of the National Guard ADT. The Minnesota soldiers are serving with 36 soldiers from Mississippi.

Ahlness said she developed the project because she knew she was going to be sending her husband packages anyway, so this was a way to get all of the Minnesota military families involved.

"I wanted to identify some sort of opportunity to connect with them," said Ahlness, who is the chair of the family readiness group.

So Ahlness and her daughter Ellen came up with the idea of sewing fleece stockings and then stuffing them with a variety of supplies for the soldiers since they are often short on supplies due to infrequent deliveries.

Ahlness said she spoke to her husband to identify which items the soldiers need most.

Ahlness, who is on the board of directors for the Washington County Yellow Ribbon Network, sent out a press release to various organizations seeking support or possible collection sites.

The project has five sites.

Ahlness said she still needs quite a few shampoos and shaving creams; they have most other items.

Ahlness said a group of 13 will be at her house Dec. 4 to stuff the stockings before mailing them off to the soldiers.

"Whatever doesn't fit in the stockings, we're just going to put them in boxes and mail them out," she said.

Ahlness said people don't realize just how important these care packages are to soldiers because it really gives them a piece of home.

"People don't realize that when we send things, we put a little touch of us in there," she said. "They are so excited that people are thinking of them."

Since the soldiers don't break for holidays, Ahlness said this is a chance to bring Christmas to them.

"Those little things mean so much," she said. "There's nothing special about holidays to them, so it's up to us to make it special."

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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