Gifts, letters to be collected in Urbana

Gifts, letters to be collected in Urbana

URBANA — Holiday gifts to soldiers will be collected on Dec. 2 in Urbana, and letters are welcome as well.

The event runs from 1 p.m. to however long it takes at the ILEAS Building, 1701 E. Main St., U.

Lori Stewart of rural Urbana, who founded Toys for Troops, said the letters help soldiers like her own son, Brian Jolley, through what can be lonely service abroad.

Stewart shared some of her favorite kids' letters. In this case, they came from Hume, but she said she has plenty of others from Urbana, Champaign, Homer, Ogden and even Texas:

"Thank you for serving our country. You have worked for us so we can be free. This is why I am making this. You are being so brave."

"Do you feel like a hero? Because I think you are. Thank you for your sacrifice to keep our country safe."

"I want all of the soldiers to come home for Christmas and stay home with your family. I hope you come and stay with your family at home."

"Though you may be in a different country for the holidays, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy the holidays."

Letters are only one option. You can bring a gift for a soldier, bake and pack a dozen (or so) cookies, write a card to enclose in a box or even sponsor the cost of shipping a box ($13.45), Stewart said.

Donations are tax-deductible.

Mail checks to Toys for Troops, Inc., NFP, 2011 N. Cottonwood Road, Urbana, IL 61802.

Those who can't make it to the event can call 621-4950 to make an appointment for pickup or for a drop-off location.

Desirable items include DVDs, books, tissues, hard candy, gum, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, aspirin, deodorant, fingernail clippers, files, bandages, sewing kits, razors, shaving cream and lotions — in unopened packages.

More information is available at