Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
While the Obama administration works to identify just how many troops will be left in Afghanistan through 2014, the fact still remains, local men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces will be there over the holidays.
One of those soldiers serving through the holiday season is Specialist Troy Deckert Jr. of Woodward.
Deckert graduated from Woodward High School in 2011 and is now serving with a Fort Riley, Kan., based unit somewhere in Afghanistan.
Troy Deckert Sr. wants his son to know the people of Woodward are thinking about he and his fellow soldiers while they are serving during the holidays.
So, with the help from many in Woodward, Deckert is sending more than 400 stuffed Christmas stockings to his son and his fellow soldiers who won't see their families this year.
"My son isn't the only Woodward kid serving over there now," Deckert said. "There are several more from here over there right now."
Deckert Jr. is serving in intelligence with his unit there and is slated to return in May said his father. But he won't return soon enough to see his first child born.
"His wife, Whittney is living here and she is due to have a baby any day now," Deckert said. "We are setting up the Skype so maybe he can be there for the birth."
The idea of all those troops serving during a time when families typically value togetherness got Deckert thinking about how he could help send some of that "down home holiday feeling" all the way to Afghanistan.
He started collecting Christmas stockings and items to stuff into them and the idea just seemed to gather momentum.
While the idea began with sending a gift box just for his son, Deckert said, his son told him that if he sent extra stockings he would share the with his fellow unit members.
"We are sending 400 and some stockings in all to just that one address and the Chaplain is going to help him get them to people who need them," Deckert said. "Everything, 100 percent of what we get, we will send over there."
Before Deckert knew it, everyone from elementary school students to Woodward business owners and "just plain old working folk" of Woodward, were helping him gather gifts to send his son's unit members, he said.
With help to buy the stockings, 400 of them, from Atwoods of Woodward, Deckert then enlisted the help of elementary school children to decorate each the stockings.
"Oh my gosh," he said. "The kids did a great , amazing job."
Along with decorating the stockings, the students also wrote a personal letter to a soldier serving in Afghanistan.
"Every stocking will have a letter from a child here in them," Deckert said. "And I know they will enjoy those letters."
Among others, Deckert wanted to thank Big Dan's of Woodward, BK Liquor, Mary's Liquor, JR Trucking, Mann's Rental and the company he works for, WestOK Trucking.
"I've been in Woodward for eight years now and I ain't leaving," he said. "The people of Woodward have been nothing but good to me and my family."
For those who wish to send a stocking or add one to the box going to Afghanistan, call Deckert at 580-334-6468 and he will tell you where to drop off or mail your items or give you the unit's address to mail items yourself.
"What I'm really needing are things for women, things they would like to have, like lotions and stuff like that," Deckert said. "I could also use a little help with shipping costs if anyone wants to help with that. Not a lot of help, but a little."