Guard celebrates stocking-stuffing spouse
By Staff Sgt. Eric Hamilton Photos by Master Sgt. Julia Barklow, 176th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 26, 2008
KULIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Alaska -- Longtime unit family support group volunteer Colette M. Moring was surprised to learn that the farewell she thought she was attending for 176th Civil Engineer Squadron First Sgt. Barbara Jackson on Dec. 1, 2007, was actually a ceremony to recognize her efforts in sending Christmas stockings to Alaska Guard members deployed overseas. Although it was indeed Jackson's last drill in Alaska, Moring's efforts in creating and sending more than 300 stockings were the real reason everyone had gathered in the Ops Theater.
Moring's project started two years ago as support for her husband, MSgt. Boyd W. Moring, and his fellow deployed unit members. Since then, Jackson said, "Colette took it upon herself to bring together a bunch of people, not only from the unit but for the community."
It was the third consecutive holiday season Moring coordinated this massive
project, which expanded this year to include deployed Alaska Army Guard members.
Jackson said that enjoying all the items Moring sent "could take a whole deployment,"
and the gifts has meant a great deal to her personally when she was deployed over Christmas in 2006.
Jackson decided she wanted to thank Moring by presenting her with a flag flown at the deployment on New Year's Day, 2007. Lt. Col. Mark Hedlund, commander of the 144th Airlift Squadron, and Lt. Col. Andy Mamrol, commander of the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron, also presented Moring with unit coins and a unit patch from the deployment, to show their appreciation for the stockings she sent.
Using express mail postage boxes, the project cost $856 in postage last year alone. Each stocking contained such prizes as jerky contributed by Indian Valley Meats, thermometers from REI, and gift certificates -- "not just normal stuff," Jackson said.
"The most prized treasures in each stocking were the letters from schoolchildren,"
Jackson said the gifts weren't even the only thing Moring did.
"She's been at the airport every time CES members deployed or returned," Jackson noted.
Moring modestly acknowledged the praise she was receiving, saying "I'm just the vessel," and describing the tremendous support she received from the local community.
"[Recognition] isn't why we do it," she said. "Knowing that it brings a bit of home, that it means they're remembered, that's why we do it."
Moring said she originally attempted to personalize the stockings by putting name tags on each, and, when possible, gearing what she sent by whom she thought would receive the stocking. This worked well, her husband said, until she put together a package for an unfamiliar Guardsman with a name that suggested he might have been a she. Despite getting a stocking with of feminine products, Moring said that he was a good sport about it and appreciated the efforts regardless.