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Wilson students make holiday stockings for soldiers

WILSON – More than 200 soldiers will enjoy a little remembrance from home this holiday season when they receive handcrafted Christmas stockings from students and staff in the Wilson School District.

The project is called “Wilson Central School Goes Overseas.”

Organizers already have created more than 200 stockings since they began last month and hope to add as many more as they have materials and time for.

They must ship them out by Wednesday in order to get them to their destination in time.

The stockings come in all different colors, emblazoned with a number of different designs, but each one will hold a special message – a Christmas card made by students in the fifth, sixth and eighth grades.

Debi Sweeney, a home economics teacher in the middle and high schools, and Janet Durham, a sixth-grade teaching assistant, oversee the project. Some volunteers sew and decorate the stockings during class time, while others devote spare time on weekends.

“We’re sending these stockings to Wilson grads and their platoons, in all different branches (of the Armed Forces),” said senior Bonnie Milczarski, who is student adviser for the project.

The stockings are being sent to Durham’s son, U.S. Army Capt. Joshua Durham; U.S. Marine Corp. Scott Barlow; and First Lt. Katherine Rademacher Abbott, of the U.S. Air Force. Abbott is the daughter of former Wilson Middle School Principal Peter Rademacher. They will each help distribute the items to their colleagues.

“We’ve had donation bins around the community to collect money to pay for the postage and we’ve donated the materials for the stockings ourselves,” Milczarski said.

“We’ll be sending some of the stockings to Afghanistan and to some other places, too.”

Milczarski said several of her family members have been involved in the military through the years and Durham’s son has had several deployments to Afghanistan.

“I know neither one of us would want anyone to go without Christmas,” she said.

Durham added, “We’re sending a touch of home to our soldiers. There has been a great outpouring of support from the Wilson and Ransomville communities.

“All of the businesses have been collecting our donations for the postage. They’ve been just great. It’s really been a community project.”