For most of us, it's a Christmas stocking. But for troops deployed overseas, it's a little piece of home for the holidays.
So every fall, Operation Support Our Troops sends several thousand stockings filled with candy, snacks, playing cards and an assortment of other items to servicemen and women.
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This year, 885 of the stockings were made by a group of DuPage County employees who came together to buy fabric, cut out patterns and sew them into stockings.
"This is nothing compared to what the troops do for us," said Mary Andrus, who has organized the county's holiday stocking project since it began in 2007. "Still, it's an honor to do what we can to help."
Andrus said about 30 county employees participated in this year's project. They spent three weeks in October making as many stockings as they could before the stockings had to be filled and mailed overseas.
"There's no quota," said Andrus, a research assistant in DuPage's community services department. "We're just thankful for what we get."
The employees divided up the various tasks required to make the stockings. One of the volunteers, Anita Penn, did the sewing for about 300 of the stockings.
"It just makes me feel good," said Penn, a financial analyst who works in the county's economic and planning department.
"This was a chance to do something that I thought was a nice thing to do for the troops."
While the stockings are the same size, most are unique because they are made with different materials. Some of the volunteers also decorated the stockings they produce.
Several years ago, the county employees collected the goodies that went into their stockings. Now they help raise money that is donated to Operation Support Our Troops. The employees contributed $615 to the organization this year.
Penn says she's torn about continuing to do the project in the future.
"On one hand, I hope that we get to continue to do this," Penn said.
"On the other hand, it would be nice to know that the troops can all come home."