Operation Candy Cane began in 2009 as a result of Coalition Director Laura Hailston's son who called from Afghanistan where he was stationed in the Army commenting on how cold it was there. In response, Laura and Vietnam vet Ron Schoonmaker decided to organize a blankets, scarves, mittens, hats and warm socks collection project. The HCHC joined their effort, helping to pay for the half ton of goods sent to Afghanistan. In 2010 Hailston formally introduced Operation Candy Cane (now a wing of the Coalition) which that year collected not only clothing but candy, stuffed animals and beanie babies for Afghan children in hospitals, schools and orphanages. Hailston then offered area elementary and middle schools an opportunity to get involved and several joined on board-collecting numerous items along with handmade Christmas cards made by the children. Most recently, OCC has devoted its efforts to collecting snack items, paper products and toiletries along with the handmade cards to be distributed at the Marine Cpl. Gregory Harris Hospitality Room at Hancock Airport in Syracuse-the facility serves active and retired military personnel. Excess donations of food and goods have been distributed to our County's food pantries. For more information on OCC, call Laura at 315-894-0854.
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