At the VFW Post 2602 in Peoria Heights Thursday, volunteers stuffed stockings with candy, toiletries, socks and Christmas cards. The stockings will be shipped to troops overseas next week.
20,000 stockings will be stuffed in Peoria and Bloomington areas. Volunteer Jim Schrepper said they're looking forward to giving the troops at merry Christmas.
"When you hear it, saying, you know - for me to be in an outpost in Afghanistan, and you get a box of stockings. They say it means the world to us, you know. That's why we do it. Keeps us moving," he said.
Operation Santa's Official Kickoff starts Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Bloomington Outlet Mall.
According to Schrepper, it will cost $60,000 to make Operation Santa possible this year. Cash donations can be sent to Operation Santa, P.O. Box 1975, Bloomington, Illinois.