Women#8217;s Club makes stockings for troops

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PROCTORVILLE — The Proctorville Women’s Club has organized a way to bring a little Christmas cheer to some American soldiers in Iraq.

Over the last few weeks, the club has crafted Christmas stockings for the men and women who will spend the holidays so far from home.

Children from East Fairland and West Fairland elementary schools have been bringing in small items to fill the stockings.

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“It’s part of the Boatsie’s Boxes Organization,” club president Helen Galligan said. “Boatsie is in Wheeling, W.Va. She tries to do four big shipments per year.

She says the boys are real excited about getting things.”

Notes from the troops are on the organization’s Web site, and they are grateful for the packages.

“The things you send and do for us is amazing and really does put smiles on peoples faces,” Sean Burke, a soldier stationed in Iraq, wrote. “I love being able to send this to our teams and share with those here that are providing support to them.”

Major Michelle Franco-Cohen was a donation and gift representative last Christmas.

She wrote, “We have given them to the patients and shared them with our volunteers and the gate guards and the forward located troops that don’t get anything. It has been quite an endeavor but your boxes have spread Christmas cheer through out Iraq and I wanted you to know that.”

“Boatsie” is actually Gail VanVranken, whose son is a master sergeant in the Air Force.

Women’s Club treasurer Sharon Jack says Boatsie’s non-profit organization actually began in 2004 with just a few boxes of sheets and one corporate sponsor.

Now, the group’s Web site has a military approved list of acceptable items to send to the troops.

“We wanted the kids to bring in small stuff for the stockings,” Jack said. “They need pencils and pens, socks, games, candy, just small things that will fit in the stockings.

Dr. Cuffy York and OU Southern’s Proctorville branch have also pitched in with donations.

“Boatsie has several large corporate sponsors now,” Galligan said. “She wants to send 18,500 stockings this Christmas.”

The Women’s Club made 97 stockings, which will be collected Thursday to be mailed.

Although these stockings have been filled, Galligan asks that anyone willing to contribute should contact Boatsie’s Boxes through their website, www.boatsie.com.