On Dec. 13, a little over 100 stockings were delivered to the Oklahoma City VA, through the locally funded program Stockings for Veterans OKC.
Over the last two years, Deborah Dean, of Guthrie, started accompanying her husband to all of his appointments at the Oklahoma City VA, which ultimately led to her founding Stockings for Veterans OKC.
“I’m on the Soldiers’ Angels, which we write and send packages overseas to active-duty service members, but my husband’s health has declined in the last two years so I started going to all of his appointments at the Oklahoma City VA and I started thinking,” Dean said. “We remember those active but are we remembering those who have served? So I wanted to do something where we remember those who have served.”
Now in its second year, Dean said her time as a teacher at St. Mary’s also played a pivotal role in developing this annual event.
“I’m now retired, but while a teacher at St. Mary’s, we did a community outreach every three months through the school, so that got me started with the idea of needing to do something to give back to your community.”
Stockings for Veterans distributes the stockings directly to the patients. Inside each stocking, there are gloves, socks, either a stocking cap or baseball caps since they prefer those, and then inside each one are toiletries of shampoo and cream rinse, usually lotions or deodorants, toothbrushes and toothpaste and treats. Dean said that toiletries are one item they’re usually short on, in addition to gloves and sugar-free treats.
“It can be full or travel size since I’m hand delivering not shipping,” Dean said. “What we’re usually short on are the toiletries and we’re usually short on gloves and sugar-free treats. If anybody has Sneak and Find puzzle books, those are great, too.”
Since the program is registered with the state, monetary donations are also accepted and Dean said that money goes towards buying gloves and socks in bulk on Amazon. Donations are accepted throughout the year and kept safe in a storage facility.
“With Christmas coming up and everything going on sale after, if anybody finds things on sale, I actually have a storage building and I have tubs that are designated for Stockings for Veterans. If you go to a motel or something and get travel size toiletries, or if you donate full size, I go ahead and start packaging them. Whatever I get throughout the year, I put in storage but I get as much ready as I can.”
As for future plans, a new Veterans Resource Center is now located along N.E. 14th St., where the Ronald McDonald House used to be, and Dean would like to do another drive in February to help fill the cabinets full of food.
“What I would like to see in the future is to do another drive around Valentine’s Day called ‘From Our Hearts’ and do a food drive to fill the pantry,” Dean said.
Stockings for Veterans is a bonafide hit and would not be possible without the help of the following local businesses: EARC Thrift Store, Golden Age Nursing Home, Custom Dental, Mack’s Daycare and Dr. Brown and his amazing staff. Dean also stated that Amanda Paulson, after finding out via Facebook that Dean fell ill after donation collections began, became instrumental in this year’s drive.
“Amanda Paulson helped with this drive tremendously. I was unable to drive from October to December and she went to Mack’s and Golden Age and picked it up,” Dean said. “There’s no way this could go off without the help of the community. I mean, the help of the community is just essential for this to be successful.”
For more information, please visit the Stockings for Veterans OKC Facebook page.