With local residents serving in the National Guard having recently deployed or scheduled to deploy soon, community response to the annual Letters from Home Christmas Package Program has been strong. But more items are needed, a representative of the group said.

“We have had a fantastic response from our community but need more than usual this year because of the deployment of our local National Guard,” Joyce Leidig of the Military and Family Support Group said Sunday. “We have also had a lot of local families contact our group regarding other military who have or will deploy.”

The support group will hold its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Family Services Center to chart a busy fall season during which items will be gathered and boxes shorted for distribution over the next several weeks.

The assembly of boxes will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Early Lions Club building, and distribution to families will open at 1 p.m.

The group is also planning or helping to plan other public events during the rest of this year.

Participation in the Nov. 11 Veterans Day parade in Brownwood will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. The parade will begin at 10 a.m., and a ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Margaret and Stuart Coleman Plaza in front of the Depot Civic and Cultural Center.

The group’s Christmas candlelight service to pray for members of the military and their families will be held Tuesday, Dec. 2, and volunteers to assist with the program are being sought.

“We are so grateful to the Early High School Key Club volunteering to help us again this year, but we need more volunteers to help with packing and distributing the packages,” Leidig said. “Let us know if you can help for the entire time or just a couple of hours.”

Anyone who knows of a member of the military on active duty who would like to pick up a package is asked to contact the support group prior to distribution.

“We prepare boxes for our military who are serving in combat, overseas or in the states,” Leidig said. “Our military need to know that we appreciate their service to our country no matter where they are. We do pack the boxes that are going overseas with some additional items.”

Leidig said the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post No. 3278 has applied for a grant to help pay for postage for the Christmas packages that are mailed directly to the military. The local Girl Scouts office has again donated cookies for the packages, and the Texas Department of Transportation has provided “Don’t Mess With Texas” decals.

Donations to purchase Shields of Strength presented to deploying service men and women are being sought. Leidig said $250 is needed to purchase 100 shields. The group has distributed more than 1,000 shields to service personnel, veterans and immediate family members. The shield, shaped like a dog tag, has an American flag and Joshua 1:9 on one side and the Prayer of Salvation on the other.