Stockings For Soldiers
Boy Scout Eagle Project
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A Letter to Our Soldiers

The following is the letter I sent to the soldiers. Inside each box was a binder that held this letter. Following the letter were all of your messages that were left for the soldiers. I also included the photos found on the "Pictures! Pictures!" page.

Christmas 2007

 Dear Soldiers -

My name is Ryan and I am a Boy Scout in Livonia, Michigan. I have been a scout for over eight years and have earned merit badges and advanced in rank over time until – at last – I was able to pursue my Eagle, the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn. As an Eagle candidate, I decided it was important to do something for the men and women like you who every day stand guard and ensure our country and its people are safe. My family and I have long been supporters of our military and have been active volunteers with an organization called AdoptaPlatoon ( since 2004. We have “adopted” several soldiers at a time who are deployed overseas and wish to hear from someone back home. We have sent weekly letters and monthly care packages to them to let them know they are not forgotten and always appreciated. While we always do something big at this time of year for “our soldiers”, we found that this holiday all of them would be at home with their families. Many had been given extended deployments and we were glad that they were finally home safe and sound. However, since we did not have a current soldier overseas, I turned to my grandmother who is also an AdoptaPlatoon supporter. I asked her if there was a soldier she was currently writing who I might adopt this season for my Eagle Project. Long story short, she put me in touch with Sergeant Williams. After receiving word from him that everyone would welcome a Christmas shipment, I immediately got to work. It was a lengthy process of having my project approved by the Boy Scout Board of Review, but once that was done, I developed a website for this project and then turned to the community for help.

Before I tell you about that, though, I want to tell you about what my grandmother was doing. She is a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri and immediately turned to her co-workers to see if they would help out. Some of them are returned military and understood the conditions involved in serving our country. Former military or not, though, everyone wanted to get involved and they immediately determined that they would adopt all of you. They got to work making hand-knit hats in various sizes, homemade holiday cards (which were then signed by the St. Luke’s staff) and bringing in donations of small meals, assorted snacks, juice mixes, popcorn, hot cocoa, gum, granola bars and other needed items. These men and women also donated substantial funds to help purchase items such as socks, MP3 players and DVDs as well as pay for shipping. It was amazing what those at St. Luke’s Hospital did, and I was impressed with the amount of donations my grandmother turned over to me at Thanksgiving. After arriving back in Michigan, I then turned to my community as I prepared for a donation drive to be held on Saturday, December 1.

With the support of the local media, the donation drive was advertised in the newspaper and announced on television. With the support of the local American Legion (Post #32), I secured a prime location for the drive. On the day of the event, volunteers turned out in great numbers and people who wanted to support you showed up with trunks filled with items they thought you would like. For four hours, donations of things like candy, cookies, popcorn, trail mix, energy bars, small meals, crossword puzzles and Sodoku books, playing cards, hand-held game players, DVDs, CDs, pens and paper and even monetary contributions poured in. People came in to sign holiday cards and to have their photos taken with Santa so they could be sent to you as a way to show their support. The volunteers at the American Legion – dressed in their Army and Navy shirts (it was, after all, the day of the Army VS Navy game) – also pitched in with donations. They, of course, know from experience what you are going through right now.

The day following the donation drive, more volunteers showed up at my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to put as much as possible into 90 Christmas stockings. We sorted, stuffed, boxed and packed for five hours that day. Try as we might, though, we couldn’t get everything into the stockings – there was just too much stuff! You can be sure to receive a steady supply of things to eat, read and help pass the time over the next few months! Additionally, we will be making a separate shipment – soon to come – of all the shampoo, razors, soaps, Q-tips, nail clippers, towels, sewing kits, pillow cases, etc. that we received. Together with the donations given by the community and The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan, I will soon be sending 90 hygiene kits to you.

Finally, today I printed off all of the holiday notes left for you on my website over the past two weeks. During that time, almost 500 messages were written from people all around the world who wanted you to know how much they appreciate and value you. I hope you enjoy reading them (they follow this letter) as well as checking out the photos of many (but not all!) of the people who turned out to support you through this project (those photos follow the letters and are at the end of this book). By the way, a wreath is included in one of the boxes I am sending. It came from someone who saw the website and mentioned my project to a school in Florida. The kids there made the wreath as a way to show their support to you. I hope you like it.

Overall, carrying out this project was a very involved endeavor, as you can probably tell. I felt privileged, though - along with my volunteers - to do something in an effort to support you and let you know how much your service is valued and appreciated. I would like to personally thank you for the sacrifices made by yourselves and your family members. I cannot begin to imagine how hard this situation must be for you, but I hope that what is included in these boxes (and those yet to come), will be of some slight help to you. On behalf of myself and all those who helped contribute to make this holiday special, I thank you for doing all you can to help keep this country safe.




PS. I think the following poem, titled “A Different Christmas Poem”, summarizes the feelings of everyone involved. It is (supposedly – you know the Internet) sent by LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment. It was circulated via email last year and I noticed it is making the rounds again this season. I thought it completed a lot of my thoughts (with exception to having a wife and kids because I’m only 16). Thank you again.

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed ‘round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said "It’s really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.
It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘Pearl’ on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’,
And now it’s my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue ... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right."
"But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

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