1,270 ‘Stockings for Soldiers’ Assembled for Our Troops Overseas by the Students at the Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt

Our country’s ser­vice men and women are often­times sta­tioned far away from their home, fam­i­ly, and friends.  This can be espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult for them over the hol­i­days.  To show those active­ly serv­ing out­side the United States that they are still being thought of and their sac­ri­fice appre­ci­at­ed, the stu­dents of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) at Samuel Everitt have once again under­tak­en a ‘Stockings for Soldiers’ campaign. 

The pro­gram was start­ed, and is man­aged by, Shannon Hamilton who is a Bucks IU Intensive Autistic Support Teacher.  Shannon want­ed to send some hol­i­day cheer to her broth­er sta­tioned over­seas in the Marine Corp and thought of a way to make this a class­room project that would also sup­port the edu­ca­tion­al needs of her stu­dents.  Now in its fourth year, this pro­gram has expand­ed from send­ing just a few dozen stock­ings, to now cre­at­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing a whop­ping 1,270 stock­ings!  With gen­eros­i­ty abound­ing through dona­tions from far and wide, an addi­tion­al 13 box­es were also able to be packed up for ship­ping to
our troops!

The extra­or­di­nary key to this entire project is that the stock­ings and box­es are all assem­bled by stu­dents with spe­cial needs, who pro­vide both the hands and the heart to make this all come togeth­er.  Along with their teach­ers and sup­port staff, an assem­bly line is cre­at­ed with each stu­dent assigned a task that best allows them to learn and prac­tice the skills they are being taught at school.  From sort­ing donat­ed items, to mak­ing hol­i­day cards, to phys­i­cal­ly col­lect­ing the items and stuff­ing them into the stock­ings, every­one is includ­ed and an inte­gral part of mak­ing this the huge suc­cess it has become.

Giving these stu­dents an oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate and show their sup­port has tak­en the Stocking for Soldiers project to anoth­er lev­el of exem­pli­fy­ing a spir­it of car­ing and shar­ing.  The Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt has approx­i­mate­ly 120 stu­dents who were sup­port­ed in this enor­mous endeav­or by Bucks IU stu­dents from the IU HOPE pro­gram as well as stu­dents in Autistic Support and Life Skills class­es in Bensalem High School, Snyder Middle School, and Mill Creek Elementary School.  The stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing ranged in age from Pre-Kindergarten through the age of 21.

Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick stopped by to assist, sup­port, and vis­it the school he attend­ed as a child.  He stat­ed, “It’s great to see the prop­er­ty being put to such good use, see it active and to be here to expe­ri­ence the kids con­nect­ing with our troops through this pro­gram.  I was sta­tioned in Iraq in 2008 and we were the recip­i­ents of items from pro­grams like this, and I can tell you that it was appre­ci­at­ed and very uplifting.”

This year’s stock­ings, and addi­tion­al box­es, are being sent to troops sta­tioned in both Iraq and the Netherlands.  There were 278 box­es of stock­ings, plus 13 box­es of extra items, for a total of 291 box­es to be sent.  The ship­ping costs (in excess of $3,700) were gen­er­ous­ly cov­ered by Fore the Troops; a phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tion focused on pro­grams and sup­port of mil­i­tary per­son­nel and their families. 

Middletown Township Supervisor Amy Strouse also stopped in to help and said “Coming from a fam­i­ly of Marines, I can feel the joy that our troops will expe­ri­ence when they open these stock­ings. It’s always great to be able to help with pro­grams like this and expe­ri­ence the kids being able to give back.”

This program’s suc­cess is large­ly due to the sup­port received from a wide vari­ety of busi­ness­es and orga­ni­za­tions, and this year, dona­tions were also received from Washington DC, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland!  We wish to extend our sin­cere thanks for the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions from these local Pennsylvania Giant Supermarkets (Levittown, Langhorne, Fairless Hills, Feasterville, Morrisville, Southampton) as well as from the Sam’s Club in Langhorne.  Our partners/donation sites includ­ed the Kiddie Academy (Feasterville), Bensalem Township School District, Neshaminy School District, Bucks IU Administrative Offices in Doylestown, Bucks IU at Lower Southampton, and the Bucks IU Education Foundation.

If you would like to donate to this pro­gram for next year, please con­tact Shannon Hamilton at SHamilton@BucksIU.org.