Mayor Dan O’Neil has declared Saturday Make a Difference Day for the residents of Edmond. He is asking everyone to join in the Christmas for Our Troops activities.

O’Neil will join the Blue Star Mothers of Edmond in collecting, packaging and sending 500 boxes to our U.S. service members serving overseas.

“I was involved and helped with the packing when we did this in 2005,” O’Neil said.

“I thought it was a good idea then, and I think it is a real good idea now since our National Guard is deployed.

“We need to make sure our community supports the troops and makes this a great Christmas.”

Businesses, organizations and individuals are asked to donate items and money to help servicemen and servicewomen see a package from home which makes a difference at Christmas.

“Not only do we need items donated, but we also need donations of money to send the boxes and volunteers to help pack them,” said Blue Star Mothers President Vicky Behenna.

Her son, 2nd Lt. Michael Behenna, is with the 101st Airborne in Iraq and has been in Iraq for two weeks.

“The mayor’s goal of 500 boxes is an aggressive one,” Behenna said, “and we are rather a small chapter, so we are hoping many volunteers will turn out to help us by bringing needed items, donating cash for mailing expenses and showing up Saturday at the National Guard Armory to help us pack.”

The mayor wants to see that each soldier receives a DVD or CD at Christmas.

“Blue Star Moms are going around town asking for new or gently used DVDs or CDs,” Behenna said, “but we haven’t had much luck. We would love to see a business make a donation as well as individuals.”

Items needed for the troops include food, personal hygiene items, items for women, fun things and others.

“We would like to have items by Wednesday, but items will be taken until Saturday,” said Nicole Westbrook, staff assistant to the Mayor and Council.

Items may be dropped off at Peace Lutheran Church at 2600 E. Danforth Road and the YMCA at 1220 S. Rankin St. until Wednesday at 5 p.m., and items may be brought to the National Guard Armory at 600 S. Bryant until Saturday.

Checks to defray shipping costs should be payable to: Blue Star Mothers, P.O. Box 30875, Edmond, OK 73003.

Food items include coffee (instant or ground), Kool-Aid (pre-sweetened)**, Gatorade (mix) **, any type of drink mix **, beef jerky**, Slim Jims, trail mix, nuts, protein bars, microwave popcorn, Pringles or other canned potato chips**, cereal (individual serving sizes, cereal bars, Pop Tarts, candy (no chocolate or sticky kind) and gum and/or breath mints.

Personal hygiene items requested include travel and individual sizes of baby wipes, shaving cream, toilet paper, razors, nail clippers, baby powder and/or foot powder, antibacterial hand sanitizer, Q-tips, Chapstick, sunscreen**, bug repellent, gel deodorant, eye drops**, and white and gray heavy socks.

Items needed for women include feminine hygiene products (tampons, panty liners and sanitary pads), hair bands and scrunchies and emery boards.

Fun items (travel or small sizes) including hand-held games, board games, travel games, magazines (for both men and women), puzzle and word game books, stationery, pens and pencils, stamps, books (paperback preferred), hand-held, battery operated fans (with misters preferred — plastic or foam blades)**, AA batteries, prepaid phone cards (international), hacky sacs, frisbees, comic books, yo-yos and neck coolers.

Snack, pint-size and gallon-size zip baggies, tape for boxes and markers also are needed.

** Indicates popular items.

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