With the holidays rapidly approaching, many of us find ourselves busy making arrangements for seasonal meals and family gatherings. In all the bustle, it’s important to remember our servicemen and women stationed overseas, away from families and loved ones.
The Marlton Woman’s Club has been doing its part to remember the troops and ensure none of them goes without holiday cheer. Dozens of stockings were distributed to the club’s members starting in August and have since been returned filled with personal care items and treats, ready to be shipped to soldiers by way of the group’s partnership with the Marlton-based nonprofit Operation Yellow Ribbon.
The woman’s club is just one of 220 similar organizations throughout the state that make up the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs (NJSFWC). Each group filled and contributed its own stockings to the annual statewide collection.
As president of the Marlton Woman’s Club, Mt. Laurel resident Lisa Levin also serves as the State Public Issues chairwoman for the NJSFWC and helped coordinate the stocking collection as one of her initiatives.
“It’s giving back and helping others,” Levin said of the drive behind the collection. “These stockings are for the troops, to deliver Christmas cheer.”
By Levin’s estimate, there have been about 1,800 stockings collected from clubs state-wide to date. Of that total, around 30 came from the Marlton club alone. A unique and special touch is added to each stocking in the form of a personal greeting and an uplifting message.
According to David Silver — an Operation Yellow Ribbon volunteer for over 10 years — the stockings are destined for active military personnel stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Horn of Africa.
Silver recently helped the local woman’s club load ready-to-ship boxes full of stockings into one of its vans from a collection point at the nonprofit’s Mt. Laurel warehouse. Between the stocking collection and its own holiday cookie drive, this is one of the busiest times of the year for the organization.
Though he never served himself, Silver volunteers his time with Operation Yellow Ribbon as a way of giving back and recognizing the sacrifices made by servicemen and women.
“For me it’s appreciating my freedom and giving back to those who protect it and provide it,” he noted.
Marlton resident and club member Irene Hartman also volunteered with the operation at the Mt. Laurel warehouse alongside Levin, Silver and fellow club members.
This wasn’t Hartman’s first year participating in the collection; she says the thought of someone in the military missing out on holiday cheer is what keeps her coming back.
“There’s a pride about what our woman’s clubs do to make it a little nicer for them because a lot of people don’t have family, and not having family they wouldn’t get anything.
“It’s a great thing we’re able to do.”