Don’t forget to add foot powder, beef jerky and wool scarves to your Christmas shopping list. Commander Tony Gallagher tells us those are some of the unconventional things troops serving overseas would like to have this time of year.

There are a number of collection drives across the state that take gifts and Christmas cards that people want to send to Missouri soldiers overseas. But Gallagher says some areas of the state don’t have one, and in those places a grassroots drive could help greatly.

“They need to find a soldier, marine, airman, sailor that’s in Afghanistan or Iraq, get their address. Then find out how many personnel are in their company and try and build up enough to send to their company,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher says this is a great project for church groups or other organizations. He says if you don’t know a troop, you can just call a recruitment office or the National Guard armory and they can help you find one.

“These guys and gals are out there thinking about their families at home and so forth, and here comes a package from Sedalia or St. Louis or Kansas City or wherever. It shows that somebody cares about them, people here have not forgotten them,” Gallagher said. “There’s one young man on my list here that has absolutely no family. And we’re going to make sure he has a nice Christmas.”

He says he remembers how important a package like this could be, from his time in Korea.

“I was telling my wife, I remember crying because I never got anything. I was 16 years old my first Christmas over there. Away from home and scared, and I didn’t even get a Christmas card because my family didn’t even know where I was,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher says many troops need that show of support right now.

“There was while there where, for instance, you’d walk into the airports and you’d see soldiers coming along and people would thank them, reach out to them. Lately I don’t see that as much. I think it’s all wearing on us and that’s slowing down. We need to get back up on our feet and say, ‘Hey I’m proud of you and I’m proud of the service you’re giving to our country,” Gallagher said.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]