Dawn Esposito, a Gold Star mother, and Michael J. Grant, the owner of Michael J. Grant Funeral Home Inc., conducted a yearly Holiday season stocking stuffer event for active duty Soldiers, beginning on Dec. 6, in Brentwood and Coram, N.Y.
The stockings were delivered to Fort Drum, N.Y, where they were dispersed among 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers, and 10th Combat Aviation Soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan. Esposito's son, Michael Esposito was a 2nd Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. Soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 18, 2004.
Grant adopted the program approximately five years ago. Grant reached out to Esposito, the liaison, to have the link between the community and Fort Drum Soldiers, both at home and deployed.
"It is important to let every Soldier know they are continuously supported at all times," said Esposito. "I made a promise to my son to always take care of 'triple deuce.'"
Esposito also works on other Holiday programs, including 'Operation Candy Cane', a project Espositio started eight years ago to get candy canes and treats to Soldiers.
The stocking stuffer program begins each year in early November at Grant's funeral homes. Members of the community go to the funeral homes to pick up the stockings and return them filled with goods and personal notes. Hundreds of stockings are then boxed up in early December and sent out.
"One of the great rewards of this project is witnessing the response of the community," said Grant. "Their generosity is overwhelming."
The stockings often include items like protein bars, dried fruits, jerky, coffee, Gatorade, hot chocolate, nuts and trail mixes, cookies, popcorn, batteries, Tylenol, and foot powder
Soldiers in Afghanistan were filled with gratitude when they received their gifts.
"It brings joy to my heart and my taste buds to receive such nice gifts and snacks from these care stockings, lovingly sent from the good people back home in the states," said Spc. Jacob Eaton, a fixed wheel mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.