• 59°

Soldiers want to hear from Santa Claus, too

The Christmas stockings are filled and ready for either Santa or his U.S. Postal Service elves to get them to the 129 troops from the Brookhaven unit of the Mississippi National Guard.

The Family Readiness Group of India Co. 106 BSB actually filled 144 stockings with items donated by the community, said FRG Chairwoman Lori Byrne.

The stockings, as well as several boxes of items that wouldn’t fit, need to be in the mail by Dec. 4 in order to make it to the soldiers by Christmas.

That’s just one of the dates the USPS wants the public to remember.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Postal Service expects to deliver more than 900 million packages and nearly 15 billion pieces of mail – for a total of nearly 16 billion cheerful deliveries this holiday season. 

Customers planning to mail cards and packages are encouraged to visit their local post office no later than the below dates for expected delivery by Dec. 25 to military and domestic addresses:

• Dec. 4: APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

• Dec. 11: APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

• Dec. 14: USPS Retail Ground

• Dec. 18: APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express

• Dec. 20: First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)

• Dec. 20: First-Class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

• Dec. 20: Priority Mail

• Dec. 22: Priority Mail Express

To send packages to loved ones serving in the military or at diplomatic posts abroad, the Postal Service offers a discounted price of $17.40 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The price includes a $1.50 per-box discount for mail sent to APO/FPO/DPO destinations worldwide.

Customer mailing and shipping traffic is expected to increase beginning Dec. 10, and the Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 200 million packages per week during these two weeks. The week of Dec. 17-23 is predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week, when nearly 3 billion pieces of First-Class Mail, including greeting cards, will be processed and delivered.

Additional news and information, including all domestic, international and military mailing, and shipping deadlines, can be found at the Postal Service Holiday Newsroom: usps.com/holidaynews.

Byrne said the response to the stocking project has been overwhelming. Volunteers spread out the items on three rectangular tables at Byrne’s church and after spending nearly four hours Saturday filling the 129 stockings, they filled 15 more and still had items left over.

Those additional stockings will be sent to India Co. to help make someone else’s Christmas a tad better.

“We’ll just let them hand them to anyone over there that they want,” she said.

The stockings are filled with items like socks, candies, crackers, pens, games, cards and dice and New Testaments.

Byrne is hoping to stretch the Family Readiness Group funds to pay for shipping.

“We’re just going to do the best with what we’ve got,” she said.

For more information about the stocking project, contact Byrne by email at loriree08@yahoo.com or leave a message at 601-754-9107.

India Co. 106 left the Brookhaven National Guard Armory in March headed to Fort Bliss, Texas, to meet up with troops from Crystal Springs, McComb and Monticello. They trained for three months then shipped out to the Persian Gulf. They’re all part of more than 4,000 Mississippi National Guard soldiers who are deployed for nine months at the Central Command Theater based out of Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield. The 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team is supposed to deter and react to threats in the Middle East.

This will be the unit’s third deployment to the Middle East since 2001. The Dixie Thunder brigade has been deployed during Operations Iraqi Freedom III in 2004 to 2005, and OIF 9.2 in 2009 to 2010.

The brigade is based in Tupelo, with units in McComb, Senatobia, Starkville, Amory, Monticello and Meridian, as well as in Kansas City, Kansas.