Maxine Sullens is a 1-year-old who loves her daddy.
Her mom, Jessica, said Maxine was so excited when her daddy read her a bedtime story, even though Cpl. Thomas Sullens is stationed at Camp Taji in northern Iraq.
He has been deployed since June, and was able to "read" to his daughter by sending home a recording of himself reading for her.
"I value every day with her more because he can't be here," Sullens said. "We take for granted what we have."
Because Sullens has been so touched by the sacrifices of her husband and other troops overseas, she started a fundraiser to send Christmas packages to as many soldiers as possible.
"The community support's amazing," Sullens said. "I've not been told ‘no' to this point."
Sullens is collecting donations from local businesses to create baskets for a silent auction to be held at 2:15 p.m. Nov. 8 at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Dahlonega.
She said so far she has received gift cards and goods from many local
retailers, including Papa John's pizza, Subway and Wal-Mart.
And while she is working on collecting items for the auction, she said she will accept anything the community is willing to donate. She said her starting goal is to send packages to the soldiers in her husband's battalion, but she will make and send as many care packages as possible.
"Anyone who's deployed, get me a name and an address," Sullens said. "I'm not afraid to keep going."
The soldiers are not asking for luxurious items, Sullens said. Many times soldiers request cheap items like word-search puzzle books, deodorant, soccer balls and Crystal Light lemonade mix.
"They miss this stuff," she said.
Plus, UPS is willing to ship all of the packages for half price.
Because shipping to Iraq is not reliable and takes one to two weeks on average, Sullens said she is hoping to get the packages ready to send by Thanksgiving.
"I'd rather they get them early than late," Sullens said.
Sullens said she would like to make the fundraiser an annual event, but hopes troops will be able to come home before it becomes too established.
In a time when the war in Iraq is a hot-button political topic, Sullens' mother-in-law, Melinda, said a cause such as this crosses political lines.
"No matter what, it's somebody's son or brother or husband," Melinda Sullens said.