NORWAY – Three hundred Christmas stockings filled with balsam fir pillows, packets of cocoa and popcorn – and a few will even have hand-held fans – are being shipped to Maine Army National Guard troops in Iraq.

“All the Maine people in Iraq are going to be remembered this Christmas,” Lesley Dean said Wednesday while sitting in her Norway store, L.F. Pike & Son. Dean is the national president of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

This is the third year local chapters of the Daughters have organized stockings for soldiers deployed overseas. The first was in 1990, during Operation Desert Shield, when the project was dubbed Operation Desert Stocking. The second time was last year, when 627 stockings were sent to Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.

This year, Dean said about 300 Mainers are serving in Iraq, 250 of them in the 152nd Maintenance Co.

A couple of the soldiers are from this area, she said, although the 152nd Co. is based in Augusta.

Dean said the support in the community is strong and “even the crustiest” people have donated in the ongoing effort to support troops during the holidays.

Maine Balsam Fir in West Paris offered little pillows of balsam, which Dean said went into the toe of every stocking. Other stockings items include snacks, toiletries, pens and some have decks of cards or personal fans. A couple of the stockings were made specially for the two women in the company, Dean said.

An Oxford Hills Christian school put together 50 of the stockings, Dean said.

Donations are still welcome, and anything that is not used this year will be saved for next year, Dean said.


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