By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
March 3, 2009 - Troops serving overseas will get a little bit of "Christmas in May," thanks to a troop-support group that is collecting gifts and snacks to be mailed to them on Armed Forces Day, May 16. "This is a way to thank the troops on their special day," Julieann Najar, founder of "A Soldier's Wish List," said. "There are those who seem to 'fall between the cracks' and are in combat zones in between the holidays and do not receive our December Christmas packages. We want to let these men and women know they are also important and not forgotten."
Najar's goal for the "Christmas in May" campaign is to send 2,000 gifts that will be wrapped in Christmas paper and bows to troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kosovo, South Korea, Qatar, Africa, Italy and Japan.
"Having a son who was wounded in Iraq, and knowing how important it was to get items he missed from home to him, makes it even more important to continue to do the same for all of our 'adopted sons and daughters,'" Najar said.
DVDs, CDs, drink mix packets, beef jerky and snack sausages, candy, magazines, twin sheet sets and white socks are just a few of the gifts A Soldier's Wish List volunteers have started and will continue to collect for the troops. The group plans to have a huge wrapping and mailing party May 16 in St. Louis.
The group will use donated gift certificates to purchase special-request items in individual servicemembers' names, Najar said. "In the past, through our December Christmas mailing, we have sent microwaves and other special-request items," she added. "As we are about wishes, we have the troops that we have adopted tell us what [they miss] from home, and we try to provide it."
A Soldier's Wish List sends care packages throughout the year to troops serving overseas. The group conducts fundraisers, sells merchandise and collects donations to finance its efforts. The group also has adopted troops and matched civilians wanting to adopt with other troops. To date, A Soldier's Wish List has had more than 60,000 troops sign up for adoption and has lined up more than 30,000 adopters.
"Our group's goal is to fulfill the wishes of our troops to the best of our abilities," Najar said. "This is our small way of letting our brave troops know that we care about them and appreciate their sacrifices."