Brighten lives of troops serving overseas

Every year, Operation Support Our Troops brings a little holiday cheer to troops stationed around the world through its Santa's Soldiers program.

This year, the Sammamish-based organization plans to adopt 5,000 American service men and women.

There are several ways to help during the next few weeks:

- Sew a 12-inch stocking and stuff it with some snacks or a small gift. Students at North Thurston High School in Lacey will hold a work party to sew and stuff the stockings on Oct. 28. Community members can donate fabric, stocking stuffers (see recommended list below) and their sewing skills for the effort. For details, contact Mary Nagel at 360-412-4800, ext. 41108, or e-mail mnagel1@nthurston.k12.wa.us.

Families that want to sew stockings at home can e-mail OSOT's Diane Anderson for a pattern at awalkinfaith@aol.com.

- Donate stocking stuffers and gift items to OSOT. Items OSOT is collecting for stockings: nonbreakable Christmas ornaments, individually wrapped candy canes and other small candies, 1-ounce bags of beef jerky and individual packages of peanuts, hot chocolate or spiced cider. Families also can send gifts to soldiers w ith letters and cards of support. (For security reasons, cards and letters shouldn't be placed in envelopes, but they can be stuffed in a stocking or attached to a gift.)

Some gift ideas: boxed chocolates, single-use cameras, comic books, boxed stationery, polypropylene socks, baseballs and mitts, DVDs of movies and television sitcoms, crossword puzzle books, AA and AAA batteries, footballs, music CDs, white socks (without logos) and handheld electronic games such as solitaire, Yahtzee and poker.

U.S. Army recruiting offices will accept donations on behalf of OSOT, including the offices at 400 Cooper Point Road S.W., Olympia (360-943-3732), which is near Goodwill Industries; at 801 Sleater Kinney Road S.E., Lacey (360-456-1611); and 1251 Harrison Ave. W., Centralia (360-330-7920).

Donations must be received by Nov. 11. Pre-wrapped gifts cannot be accepted because of security issues.

- Volunteer to help assemble packages at OSOT's work party beginning at 10 a.m. Nov. 18 at Andersons' Barn, 20245 S.E. 192nd St., Renton.

- Donate money to help buy supplies and pay for postage. Checks should be made payable to OSOT and mailed to Nadine Gulit, 280 S.W. Clark St., D-5, Issaquah, WA 98027.

For more information about OSOT, Santa's Soldiers and other activities, see www.operation-support-our-troops.org.

Share creative ideas for reducing, reusing or recycling with Lisa Pemberton at 360-704-6871 or lpemberton@theolympian.com.