The Students of the Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt Honor Their 5th Annual ‘Stockings for Soldiers’ Program by Completing 1,400 Stockings!

In the midst of a pan­dem­ic, with schools try­ing to oper­ate nor­mal­ly while deal­ing with chang­ing health guide­lines and sched­ule mod­i­fi­ca­tions, the stu­dents of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) at Samuel Everitt were deter­mined to per­se­vere and still hold their 5th Annual Stockings for Soldiers pro­gram on Monday, November 30, 2020.  Under the direc­tion of Shannon Hamilton, Bucks IU Autistic Support Teacher, this all start­ed with the idea of send­ing some hol­i­day cheer to her Marine Corps broth­er who was sta­tioned over­seas at the time.  Expanding on the idea, Ms. Hamilton found a way she could make this a class­room project in sup­port of the edu­ca­tion­al needs of her students. 

Ms. Hamilton’s class thought of putting var­i­ous gift items and cards into stock­ings to ship over­seas to her broth­er and his fel­low ser­vice per­son­nel. The project was such a hit that over the next five short years, it expand­ed to encom­pass ship­ping to troops in loca­tions around the globe and requir­ing the entire school’s par­tic­i­pa­tion to sup­port what has become an enor­mous assem­bly and dis­tri­b­u­tion effort. From open­ing box­es and sort­ing items, keep­ing a detailed inven­to­ry, to count­ing and bag­ging can­dies, and even mak­ing a card for every stock­ing, this project allows every sin­gle child in the school to par­tic­i­pate in some way.  Physical and occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­py skills are sup­port­ed by prac­tic­ing things such as man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty, mobil­i­ty, grip­ping, and bal­ance along with soft skills being sup­port­ed through social inter­ac­tion and prac­tic­ing both patience and sharing.

For this 5th Anniversary of the Stocking for Soldiers, 1,400 stock­ings were com­plet­ed!  With gen­eros­i­ty abound­ing through dona­tions of items and funds from well beyond just Bucks County and Pennsylvania, an addi­tion­al 25 com­mu­ni­ty box­es of good­ies were also able to be packed up for ship­ping to our troops!

Adaptations for 2020

The pan­dem­ic made the logis­tics of this year’s plan­ning and goal more dif­fi­cult, but every­one was deter­mined to still make this hap­pen. Students were kept with their own class­mates and that class would take 30 min­utes to come in to work the assem­bly line. This year had des­ig­nat­ed per­son­nel wear­ing gloves and posi­tioned on the oppo­site side of the tables, hand­ing the child a stock­ing and then as the kids went down the line, dropped items in to fill them up. Using the gym and with assem­bly lines on oppo­site sides of the room, the bins of items were spaced over six feet apart to sup­port social dis­tanc­ing.  Everyone med­ical­ly capa­ble of wear­ing a mask did so, hand san­i­tiz­er was read­i­ly avail­able, and doors were opened for added fresh air cir­cu­la­tion when­ev­er possible. 

Showing Their Support

Many local leg­is­la­tors stopped in to show their sup­port for this amaz­ing pro­gram and stu­dents.  Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick not only made a spe­cial trip back to Bucks County to show his sup­port, but kind­ly pre­sent­ed the Bucks IU with a flag that had been flown over the Washington Capital.  Also stop­ping by were Representative Tina Davis and Representative Wendi Thomas.  Commissioner Robert Harvie also came by to lend a hand by fill­ing some stockings.

The Generosity of Many

Through the dona­tion of goods, ser­vices, funds, and time, this pro­gram is made pos­si­ble by so many.  Fore the Troops  is a non­prof­it char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tion that rais­es mon­ey to sup­port phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tions focused on pro­grams and sup­port of mil­i­tary per­son­nel and their fam­i­lies.  They have been an avid sup­port­er of this pro­gram and once again gen­er­ous­ly donat­ed $5703.60 to cov­er all of the ship­ping costs.  Funding was also pro­vid­ed by the Bucks IU Education Foundation who sup­ports edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams for the stu­dents of Bucks County with grants.  Their $500 was used towards the pur­chase of stockings. 

Additionally, thanks go out to the Davis Elementary School 5th Grade, Girl Scouts Rock United Service Unit (Troops 263, 262, and 2470), Cheryl Cichonski-Urban for col­lect­ing dona­tions, Shoprite (Yardley), Giant (mul­ti­ple dona­tions from loca­tions through­out Bucks County), Redners (Levittown), BJs (Fairless Hills), Sam’s Club (Langhorne), and the fol­low­ing drop off sites; the Green Parrot and Kiddie Academy.  Their sup­port not only helps this pro­gram but is a won­der­ful exam­ple of the strength of the Bucks County Community. 

The pro­gram tru­ly appre­ci­ates the Military vol­un­teers who come to assist; Gus Cales, Sergeant-At-Arms for the Patriot Detachment 1230 and Marine Corp League Eagle Scout Representative, and Robert Dangler Jr., US Army, Staff Sergeant (retired).  Their pres­ence, in uni­form, helps the stu­dents to visu­al­ly con­nect what they are doing to the intend­ed recipients. 

A Win-Win for Both Students and Troops

This pro­gram not only sup­ports student’s edu­ca­tion­al needs, it also pro­vides emo­tion­al sup­port.  This pro­gram is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for stu­dents to give back to oth­ers by giv­ing of their time and effort in an expres­sion of shar­ing and car­ing. This is a fun, learn­ing, and giv­ing pro­gram they look for­ward to and have become very ded­i­cat­ed to par­tic­i­pat­ing in every year.  The thank you notes and acknowl­edge­ments from mil­i­tary per­son­nel around the world are cher­ished and shared with stu­dents and staff help­ing to val­i­date the impact their efforts have made to so many away from home over the holidays. 

Watch the News Coverage

Fox29 Philadelphia pro­vid­ed live news cov­er­age of this amaz­ing event.  You can watch it here:

Help Us Continue

The Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt is already plan­ning for their next Stockings for Soldiers!  If you would like to donate to this pro­gram for next year, please con­tact Shannon Hamilton at