The Illinois Valley's Project Santa elves already are gearing up to bring holiday cheer to the country's troops overseas.

Since 2005, the local organization has stuffed stockings with care packages to be delivered to thousands of American soldiers.

After a big first-year push of 13,500 stockings sent, the volunteer group has averaged about 5,000 stockings each year. Their goal is 6,000 stockings this year, according to coordinator Heidi Milner.

Items wanted

This year's wish list includes:

Gatorade or Crystal Light single-serve packets, hot chocolate packets, hot cider packets, single serve coffee packets, hot tea bags, individual sugar and creamer (dry) packets, Cup-A-Soup packets, Ramen noodles, beef jerky, Slim Jims, gummy candy or fruit snacks in small packets, fun-size candy bars or other chocolate, gum, Life Savers, Tic Tacs, snack size peanuts, trail mix, protein or granola bars, individual disposable razors, Chapstick, Band-Aids, individually wrapped wet wipes, playing cards, dice, pencils and pens, note pads, eye-drops and Beanie Babies.

Project Santa also is hoping for donations of fabric to be made into stockings.

Time to stuff stuff

Stocking stuffing begins at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9 in Project Santa Headquarters, Catholic War Veterans hall, 356 N. 2969th Road, La Salle.

Anyone with family or friends serving overseas is asked to give the soldier's name and contact information to be added to the list of stocking recipients.

Donations can be dropped off at: Spring Valley City Bank or Hy-Vee, Peru. Monetary donations can be sent to: PROJECT SANTA, PO Box 129, Peru, IL 61354.

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