2,330 Stockings Completed by Students of the Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt in Their 6th Annual Stockings for Soldiers Program

Neither rain nor sleet nor lim­i­ta­tions due to a pan­dem­ic will keep the stu­dents of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) at Samuel Everitt from com­plet­ing their annu­al Stockings for Soldiers pro­gram.  In this 6th year, dona­tions of the var­i­ous items to put into the stock­ings, as well as stock­ings them­selves, were out­stand­ing and made for an amaz­ing assem­bly day at the school on December 1, 2021.  The stu­dents stuffed 2,330 stock­ings, far sur­pass­ing their orig­i­nal goal of 1,500 and the 1,400 they com­plet­ed the year prior!

The idea for this pro­gram began with Shannon Hamilton, Bucks IU Autistic Support Teacher, want­i­ng to send some hol­i­day cheer to her Marine Corps broth­er and fel­low Marines who were sta­tioned over­seas dur­ing the hol­i­days. The thought was to send them some good­ies such as gra­nola bars, gum, mints, basic hygiene items, puz­zle books, etc. along with a per­son­al note.  Ms. Hamilton worked with oth­er teach­ers and ther­a­pists to make this a stu­dent project by incor­po­rat­ing all the tasks and activ­i­ties need­ing to be com­plet­ed, and be set-up to cor­re­late to the indi­vid­ual edu­ca­tion­al needs of the school’s stu­dents with spe­cial needs.

Starting in September, dona­tions of items to go into the stock­ings begin to arrive.  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.  Soft skills (e.g., inter­per­son­al skills) also get prac­ticed as stu­dents find them­selves hav­ing to work togeth­er, learn­ing to be patient, and hav­ing to share.  Some activ­i­ties sup­port aca­d­e­m­ic skills such as math (count­ing, track­ing), com­put­er skills (enter­ing data), and English (writ­ing notecards). 

This pro­gram also pro­vides 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 par­tic­i­pat­ing in every year.

Showing Their Support

Providing a great spir­it boost to the stu­dents are vis­its dur­ing the assem­bly day by Bucks IU senior per­son­nel as well as by local leg­is­la­tors. Senator Maria Collett, PA 12th District, came by to learn more about this pro­gram and see how it works first-hand.  Representative Wendi Thomas, 178th Legislative District, and Representative Tina Davis, 141st Legislative District, also made the time to come by once again this year. Everyone jumped right in and start­ed help­ing to  assem­ble stock­ings in sup­port of the pro­gram and students. 

Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director, stat­ed “Seeing a pro­gram that pro­motes giv­ing, car­ing, and com­mu­ni­ty that is also suc­cess­ful­ly adapt­ed to meet the indi­vid­ual edu­ca­tion­al plans of our stu­dents, is tru­ly heart­warm­ing.  The smiles and excite­ment of the stu­dents com­bined with the learn­ing, and   help­ing oth­ers is a won­der­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our Bucks IU pro­grams and efforts of our out­stand­ing staff.” 

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 the pro­gram and once again gen­er­ous­ly donat­ed $6,528 to cov­er all the ship­ping costs of the 345 box­es of stock­ings sent to troops all over the world.

Additionally, thanks go out to:

  • Tawanka Elementary (Neshaminy School District) where each grade was assigned a spe­cif­ic item to bring in (gra­nola bars, gum, etc.) result­ing in an entire truck­load of donations
  • Maple Point Middle School (Neshaminy School District) 8th graders who start­ed sim­ply col­lect­ing change and with their dona­tion dri­ve expand­ed, raised over $800
  • Schools and day­cares col­lect­ing dona­tions, being a com­mu­ni­ty drop-off site, and/or mak­ing cards: Mill Creek Elementary (Bristol Township School District), Valley Elementary (Bensalem School District), Cornwells Elementary (Bensalem School District), Snyder Middle School (Bensalem School District) and Bensalem High School (made over 750 cards), Kiddie Academy (in Feasterville and Warminster), Bucks IU (Doylestown)
  • Tre Fratelli (Langhorne) who donat­ed 300 stock­ings when the pro­gram was unsure if there would be enough
  • VFW 9220 (Bensalem), assist­ed by VFW 9198 (Andalusia), who donat­ed over $1000 worth of stock­ing goodies
  • Various Giant Supermarkets, BJs, and Sam’s Club who sup­port­ed the Bucks IU with their very gen­er­ous donations
  • The many indi­vid­u­als, busi­ness­es, and orga­ni­za­tions who donat­ed direct­ly at drop-off sites and/or through the program’s online wish lists

Plans Underway for Next Year

The Bucks IU at Samuel Everitt is already plan­ning for what will be the 7th Annual Stockings for Soldiers pro­gram in 2022.  If you would like to donate to this pro­gram, please con­tact Shannon Hamilton at SHamilton@BucksIU.org.