"There was a news report on the TV," Van Buren Elementary teacher Cassandra Smith said. "Since we didn't have a Veterans Day program in November because of construction, this was the perfect opportunity to help."
Working with French Funeral Home, each class was given one stocking, 12 stockings total to fill. However, students went above the projected collection and began filling shopping bags with items.
"It gave the students the opportunity to help those currently serving," Smith said. "In a week's time, we collected more than we anticipated."
Some of the items collected included candy canes, chewing gum, moisturizers, lip balm, eye drops, sun block, crossword puzzles and decks of playing cards.
"We have had a good response from the community," French Funeral Home Owner/Funeral Director Susie French said. "This was our first time doing this and you never know how it will be received because everyone is asked to give so much, but everyone was so generous."
The 12 stockings from Van Buren will join the approximate 100 stockings that were filled by members of the community.
The stockings will be boxed and sent overseas to an Indiana Guard Unit, with the hopes of brightening the spirits of those that can't be home for the holidays.
"We always look for positive, upbeat activities to involve the community," French said. "Many people who are displaced from home at Christmas will still be able to share in the holiday spirit."