Christmas comes early for diggers in Afghanistan
24 December 2012
Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in Afghanistan have received early Christmas presents from generous Australians involved in the Stockings for Soldiers Project.
Hundreds of Christmas care packages, which were filled with lollies, chocolates, and letters from home, were sent to Uruzgan province where the troops are based.
Soldiers from the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Task Group were extremely grateful to receive the care packages.
“Santa handed out a few stockings for the troops that everyone back in Australia sent over for us. It’s a good way to celebrate Christmas over here and it increases morale heaps,” Corporal Matthew Bradford said.
“It makes everyone happy to know that people in Australia are thinking about us over Christmas – it makes us feel like we’re loved.
“A big thanks to everyone who has gone out of their way to make these up for us and send them over. It’s very much appreciated – all of the boys really love them.”
Private Michael Lambert said it was very humbling to know that people at home took time and effort to write a letter and send something nice.
“It is great to receive these gifts and it puts smiles on everyone’s faces around here,” Private Lambert said.
Care packages were also given to Australians serving with Combined Team Uruzgan.
“Obviously being away from home at Christmas time is quite challenging for us over here, so to receive the love and gifts is sincerely heart warming,” Flight Sergeant Fiona Grasby said.
US contractor Mr Troy Petteway, who donned the Santa suit, was thrilled to participate in the handout.
“It was awesome to give them a little bit of piece of home, a bit of warm welcome, it went over really well and they all really enjoyed it,” Mr Petteway said.
“If you could see the smiles and different conversations going on around in the background it’s definitely welcome and Merry Christmas to everyone who supported it.”
The Stockings for Soldiers Project was founded in 2009 by Townsville military spouses who packaged homemade goods, letters from primary school students and donated items for distribution to troops in Timor-Leste. It has now grown to include donations of homemade goods and letters from individuals and organisations all around Australia.
It is estimated around 3000 care packages were distributed to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Timor-Leste this year.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/12132349
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