The local Military and Family Support Group is kicking off the 2011 Community Christmas Boxes from Home Project, and so far, organizers said the response has been "fantastic."

Boxes we will at drop-off locations by the end of August, Joyce Leidig said in an email. Some organizations, schools and churches other than the previous drop-off locations have requested boxes, and those will be provided. More can participate; give group member a call.

"Thank you to everyone who has contacted us indicating they are working with groups to promote the project but we can use all the help we can get," Leidig said. "We will be supporting more military and veterans than in the past because our local National Guard are currently deployed."

In past years, area schools, churches, the Boys and Girls Club, Latch Key, Little Dude Ranch, Early Beginnings Child Care in Early, Girl Scout Troops, Cub Scout and Boy Scouts, individual families and many others have gathered cards of support and donated items to share with members of the military. Last year, one family who took this on as a family project and gave 100 cards of support to be placed in the packages. For a number of years, a woman who is homebound but wants to show her support of our military, has handmade over 250 cards each year.

"The cards of support mean so much to our military," Leidig said.

"Dr. Billy Dippel, United States Navy retired, was one of our most faithful supporters," Leidig continued. "All year he would sign cards of support and get local dentists to make donations of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and so forth. Our friend Billy died this year, but some of our military are going to receive very special cards in their packages. Billy had already started getting cards ready and his wife, Elaine, presented them to us to go in the boxes. We will miss our friend. He was so dedicated to supporting our military and their families.

"Our military need to know that all Americans appreciate their role in protecting an defending our nation's freedom - during time of peace but especially during times of war. We want our community to reach out to as many military as possible to let them know Central Texans Support them. If you know someone who is active duty military and would like for them to receive a Christmas box, please contact us with their information."

The group does not share the names or addresses of military with anyone, she emphasized.

Help packing the boxes of support is also needed. To volunteer, call Leidig at (325) 784-5014 or Babs Shields at (325) 643-1259. Help will be needed on Thursday, Nov. 3, and Friday, Nov. 4, to help with setup, and then on Saturday, Nov. 5, when distribution is planned. That will start at 1 and will continue until 3 p.m. at the Early Lions Club building on Garmon Drive.

"We appreciate the Lions Club for letting us use their building again this year," Leidig said. "It helps if you will contact us so we will know how many volunteers to expect.

"It takes our entire community to make this possible. If this is a project you would like to help with just let us know."