82nd Association delivers Operation Christmas Stocking
December 19, 2011
- Former Paratroopers helping current Paratroopers and families
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Paratroopers from across the 82nd Airborne Division picked up free Christmas stockings for their little ones thanks to the efforts of the veteran Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Association and Operation Christmas Stocking.
Despite a dip in donations and economic concerns, Operation Christmas Stocking delivered, as promised, more than 2,000 stockings stuffed with trinkets and toys to the division headquarters at Gavin Hall on Dec. 15.
"We love doing this," said Leo Hobson, the national chairman of Operation Christmas Stocking. "I just wish we were able to get better support from the member chapters to really make it extra special for the kids, they deserve it."
Hobson and John Barton, an Army veteran, drove all the way from St. Louis, Mo. to here towing a U-Haul trailer packed with Christmas stockings.
"We couldn't have done it without the help of the students at Lutheran South High School," said Hobson. They raised more than $800 and stuffed more than 2,000 stockings making the operation possible this year, he said.
The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment Panther Association also donated $1,000 helping to make the operation a reality, Hobson added.
The operation began distributing the stockings at 9 a.m. and although starting with a trickle, word made it out to the Paratroopers and family members. By 11 a.m. most of the stockings had been claimed and were on their way to make kids smile.
"Seeing them kids, a sparkle in their eye, reach up and pick out their stocking makes it all worth it," said Hobson.
Also seen smiling were the Paratroopers and family members who were grateful for the chance to give their kids a little something extra at no cost.
"We know these military families operate on shoestring budgets, so just being able to help a little makes a big difference," said Patrick Berry, a Vietnam era veteran who drove from his home in New York to participate. "Every one of those 2000 stockings was given away by noon, if we'd had more we could have given more."
Berry raised funds from the New York area and was a big help, said Hobson.
Paratroopers from across the division, from privates to colonels, stopped to thank Hobson, Barton, and Berry. They could be seen shaking hands, trading war stories, sharing experiences of life at Fort Bragg now versus then, and not to be left out, the parachute landing falls, the good and the bad, and of course, the ugly.