Kids make cards, packages for troops

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Boxes, cards and kids filled The North Platte Senior Center Wednesday afternoon to help with the efforts of the third annual Operation Christmas Card.

Students from Madison Middle School and North Platte High School write cards to troops for Christmas Wednesday afternoon at the North Platte Senior Center. (Source: Holly Barraclough, KNOP TV)

Students from Madison Middle Schools' Impact Team, Asset Team and North Platte High Schools' Key Club put together care packages and wrote cards to deployed troops.

"We're writing Christmas cards to send overseas to our soldiers and we're also packing up boxes with toiletries and peanuts and food like Jolly Ranchers and fun things like that," said Madison Middle School 6th grader, Makenna Blanton.

Blanton said she hopes these packages make the troops' holiday season away from home brighter. "I think that would make them happy because Christmas is fun, but without your family it’s kind of sad so I don’t like to think about that because it makes me sad so it must be hard for them, so I kind of want to make them happy because they’re doing a lot for us."

The non-profit, Operation Christmas Card, was started three years ago by North Platte Community Member, Char Swalberg. Swalberg says not all soldiers have a support system and they are trying to fill those gaps with donations from the kind hearts of the community.

Mentoring Coordinator for Community Connections, Angela Hipp, said, "This started as part of our mentoring program and we’re always looking for community service projects and ways to get kids involved and giving back to their community."

Hipp said the troops really appreciate getting these packages. "From what I hear, it’s a little bit of home and I think that’s really important that they know that they’re appreciated and it doesn’t really matter what’s in it, it’s just the idea that somebody cared enough to take the time to do it."

Hipp said the program originated from some troops not receiving anything for Christmas. "I know part of it started out here with Char Swalberg, her son said that there were a lot of people around him that were never getting a care package and nobody from home wrote to them so that’s what started it. It’s sad if there’s somebody that’s deployed and nobody’s writing to them, so the kids want them to know we appreciate them."

Swalberg said they sent 177 boxes last year and their goal this year is 500. She said each box costs $18.45 to ship and as of Wednesday, they are $6,000 short of their postage goal.

Donations can be made at Nebraskaland Bank or by contacting Operation Christmas Card on Facebook.

"It's great, the troops love getting homemade cards and they express how much that means to them," said Swalberg, "We have the support of North Platte because it's a huge endeavor."