Operation Stuff A Stocking Sees Big Growth
‘Tis the season to spread peace and joy and that’s exactly what Operation Stuff a Stocking helped do for under privileged military families. The program just completed it’s fourth year of helping financially strained families in the tai-county area and it was a huge success.
Created after receiving calls from the community wanting to know how they can help military families during the holiday season Operation Stuff A Stocking is a program for the public to support the “little heroes” in these families.
Amy Phillips, Center Operations and Programs Director, has overseen the program since it first started.
“We’re trying to relieve financial stress on military families of lower enlisted military families,” Phillips explained. “That’s why the program is dedicated to E6 and below.”
News Talk Florida recently followed up with Phillips to learn how the program did this year and the results were astounding. 415 military children received gifts representing 203 military families.
There were 61 wish lists delivered to Clearwater, 51 wish lists delivered to St. Petersburg and 303 wish lists were delivered to Tampa.
“The program has really taken off, which shows there is a need among our military families in our local communities.”
This year was the first year that included the Orlando/Space Coast Region. The program provided gifts for 50 military children in that area and Phillips said there will definitely be growth in the years to come over there.
Next year she said the program is expecting to provide gifts for at least 450 children!
That is a huge climb from the 89 children the program had registered in it’s first year of existence.
How Operation Stuff A Stocking Works
The way the program works is easy, any individual or organization selects a child’s wish list from the Giving Tree at the USO Welcome Center at the Tampa and Orlando Airport. Then they purchase a minimum of $50 worth of gifts from that child’s wish list and returns those gifts unwrapped by December 9th to the USO Welcome Center at the Tampa airport and December 12th at the Orlando Airport. The gifts returned will be checked and approved by the USO and will be placed in a large, red Santa bag for delivery.
The gifts are then picked up by parents from three different pick-up areas. Parents are able to use the unwrapped gifts in any way they’d like making some of the gifts from Santa or wrapping some to put under the tree.
For more information about Operation Stuff A Stocking visit the USO’s website.