Students help bring Christmas to Afghanistan

Lillian's mother, Anita Waters, also asked her neighbors for any help they could offer. Between the efforts, the Waters were able to send to Afghanistan boxes full of an array of goodies " toiletries, batteries, prepaid calling cards, socks, hand and feet warmers, microwave popcorn and other packaged foods, music, DVDs, candy, books, magazines and cards .

Anita said she made caramel popcorn and a few other homemade items that she was able to package in containers donated by Price Chopper. She said the feedback from neighbors and students was overwhelming.

"I never imagined it would be at such a large scale. The generosity was amazing. People would ring the doorbell and talk to me instead of just leaving things on the porch; thank me for letting them be a part of his," said Anita. "Sometimes I would stand in the dining room full of this stuff and just look around, almost to tears. It's heartwarming."

Lillian said that although it was still hard not having her father around for Christmas, knowing he had something to open that would remind him of home made it a little easier.

"He was really excited about it and he called us the other day to say they received the packages. He said it was really fun to get them and some of the stuff was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, so it was fun to open. They didn't have a real Christmas so this was cool for them," she said. "It was nice to know that even though he couldn't be here, he could still have some stuff from home that would make him have a good Christmas, which has always been a big deal in our house."

O'Toole said that help from the community as a whole was integral in the project's success. Operation Adopt a Soldier Inc. in Wilton provided about $3,000 in postage to mail the packages and offered its facilities as a packaging site.

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