BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — This year, the United Stockings Sailors Soldiers drive is based in room 202 on the second floor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church on East Avenue.
That room is filled with stockings, non-perishable foods, sunglasses, personal items, clothing, tools and Christmas items. Decorated stockings are hanging from a wire, above boxes of even more items. And there’s glitter on the floor.
The stockings drive began two years ago, when Teresa Manna’s Navy daughter Katherine Savant mentioned the soldiers who never get anything from the mail bag during the holidays. Items and stockings were stored in the Manna home in Lockport.
It’s grown some since then. Manna said she spoke with someone from Wisconsin, who learned about U.S.S.S. through Craigslist.
”I don’t know how we got on there,” Manna said.
The idea is simple. Pack stockings with items and gifts, then send them to American troops. Over the past two years, stockings have been sent to Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Italy, Korea, deployed naval ships and bases on American soil. In 2010, in just 10 days, 800 stockings were sent.
In 2011, 4,487 stockings were shipped, followed by over 6,000 cards and letters, all to American troops. The feedback has been overwhelming, especially from the servicemen and women who don’t have anyone to send them gifts or goodies. Manna keeps a binder full of letters written in thanks.
But this year, there are two needs. The first is volunteers. The second is stockings or material to make stockings.
Kids are chipping in, including participation in government students from Lockport High School who have been decorating stockings to send to the troops. They are also bringing in items to stuff those stockings with.
Donations and help are coming from everywhere. The community has been great, Manna said.
”No one has ever told me no,” Manna said.
To make sure the stockings reach troops overseas, they’ll have to be shipped by Dec. 7, Manna said. Donations will be accepted up until then.
New this year, is Manna is putting together a Veterans Day dinner and All-American basket raffle to raise money for the U.S.S.S. drive. The dinner will be held from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday at Emmanuel United Methodist. Tickets are $5 for veterans and seniors, $8 for adults and $4 for kids 12 and under.
Manna said there will also be a bake sale from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at Tops Markets on South Transit Road. All proceeds go to benefit United Stockings Sailors Soldiers.
People can contact Manna on the U.S.S.S. Facebook page or by email, email@example.com.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.