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Christmas in a Shoebox

This is the holiday and gift-buying season in the United states. Many Americans are overwhelmed by shopping and wrapping gifts for family members, relatives and friends. For one woman living in the small town of Culpeper, Virginia, Christmas gifts have taken on a different meaning. The report is narrated by Amy Katz.

For days, Pat Jacobs has been packing boxes of gifts in her kitchen. The packages are destined for U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan. She calls them "her boys."

"We decided, well, we might as well take care of these guys for Christmas. That's when we found there were 350. Now we found that there are 700. So we gave our word, we are going to send them."

She didn't start out to be Santa Claus to the soldiers serving with her son, Scott, in a front-line unit.

But when Scott started e-mailing her his buddies' requests, the care packages she was sending to him snowballed into a major project. She says she realized that the other boys needed items too. "The boys out on the front lines and in the caves looking for Bin Laden. Those boys are going to ask for deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and weapon cleaning kits."

To be able to send care packages to her son's unit every other week, Pat worked extra jobs cleaning houses. "I worked extra days to take care of paying for it. Everything I made that particular day will go into that program."

Once Pat decided to do the Christmas gift project, she collected shoeboxes and stockpiled them in the attic.

Donations and support have come from family, friends, neighbors, churches and veterans. Most of them are from Culpeper, a town of 10,000 people about 100 kilometers from Washington, DC.