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Soldiers families get a Christmas surprise
Adam McDaniel spreads toys out on the tables Monday afternoon at the National Guard 802nd Ordnance as he helps deliver toys donated to children of the unit’s soldiers who were recently deployed in Afghanistan.

While local soldiers are fighting overseas, the community is making sure their families have a merry Christmas.

On Monday, people delivered toys to the armory on Shallowford Road for the families of soldiers in the Army Reserves and National Guard.

"We have plenty of toys for all the soldiers’ kids," said Dave Dellinger, a spokesman for Operation Patriot’s Call. "People have really wanted to help."

Operation Patriot’s Call is a family support group for Charlie Company, part of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade, currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Part of the Army Reserve 802nd Ordnance Company left Fort Hood this week, also bound for Afghanistan.

Dellinger said there has been an outpouring of community support for both the National Guard and Army Reserve units in Hall County.

Operation Patriot’s Call received $500 in donations, in addition to donations from
Toys for Tots.

Emily Harper and Judy Highfield of Clermont organized a toy drive on behalf of the town to benefit the families of soldiers overseas.

"This is my way of saying ‘thank you,’" Harper said. "They’re standing guard in (Afghanistan) and I think it’s my place to stand guard here."

Harper said everywhere she went, people were inspired to give.

"I told the people at Walmart (in Cleveland) and they gave me a $50 gift card," Harper said.

People shopping near her in the aisles also bought toys to contribute.

"Here they were coming out of nowhere giving little toys," Harper said. "I was loaded down."

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Strother said he knows from experience that it is difficult for soldiers and their families to be separated during the holidays. He remembers community support making things much easier for him and his family.

"They’ve been behind this unit a lot," Strother said. "They’ve been really outstanding."

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