Christmas for Our Troops drive under way

Area residents have about a month remaining to donate Christmas gifts to U.S. soldiers serving overseas in combat zones.The Christmas for our Troops Inc. gift drive, currently ongoing in Big Spring and other West Texas communities, is collecting gifts to ensure that this nation's troops aren't ignored during the upcoming holiday season.Debbie Burrow, local director for the drive, said volunteers will be soliciting gifts and monetary donations through Dec. 1.Burrow said the entire purpose of the drive is simple.“A major part of it is just to let t(the soldiers) know we're thinking about them,” Burrow said.The drive has grown dramatically since it began six years ago. After collecting five boxes of gifts in 2004, the campaign has steadily grown to the point that almost 2,000 boxes were shipped overseas last year, she said.“This year, we hope to send 2,500 boxes to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Burrow added.Burrow said CFOT requests that individuals limit their donations to items that can be easily packed and shipped in 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-5.5-inch boxes. The size and quantity of each item should be appropriate for one individual to use or consume.“The main thing we're concerned about is the size of the items,” Burrow said. “These are going to the individual soldiers, not their units.”Among the requested donation items are:• Over the counter medication such as Tylenol, Pepcid, Claritin, antibacterial ointment and soap, cough drops and eye drops.• Toiletries such as deodorant, Kleenex, toothpaste and toothbrushes and Band-Aids.• Food and powdered drink items, including cocoa, powdered Gatorade and lemonade, trail mix, sunflower seeds, nuts, beef jerky and raman noodles.• Necessities and fun items such as socks, batteries, DVDs and CDs, magazines and paperbacks, Christmas cards, knit gloves and caps, toys and Hoppe's No. 9 gun solvent.“One of the items we're sending out this year are handmade Christmas cards,” Burrow said. “All the elementary students in Big Spring are making them for our troops.“If people will just stick to the list, that's what we want,” she added. “As long as they do that, we'll be fine.”Cash donations will be accepted, either at Hardison Appliance or by mail to: CFOT, P.O. Box 10549, Midland 79702.Packages will be shipped on Dec. 8 in order to be delivered by Christmas.For more information, contact Burrow at 267-7165 or 270-8554.