HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Two hundred boxes are on their way from Huntsville to Afghanistan bringing homemade holiday cheer to U.S. troops.
Among the volunteers putting the packages together are a few men who know firsthand the difference the care packages will make to the troops.
The screech of shipping tape may not sound like jingle bells, but to a soldier, it's the next best thing.
"Just a big warm fuzzy," said Kiley Kinzer-Henry, the Director of A Smile for Troops, a non-profit organization based in Huntsville.
Wednesday morning, volunteers taped up holiday care packages that they stuffed with homemade goodies to send to troops surrounded by sounds of explosions.
"This is what I did in the army, run assembly line," said Retired Army Sergeant Major Eugene Brooks, who served in vietnam. He's now a volunteer for "A Smile for Troops".
He and his colleagues know firsthand the importance of these packages.
"It's extremely important," said Bill Prysock, also a Vietnam Veteran from Huntsville. "I know when I was in Vietnam, while we didn't get packages quite as large as these, it was important to get packages from home."
"To get cookies, homemade cookies, from a mom to candies to things you don't have--it's just people care," said Al Reed, another Vietnam veteran from Huntsville. "The guys over there and the girls over there need to know that people back here care."
The volunteers assembled the boxes at the Huntsville Center for Technology, since culinary students there made some of the most popular items.
"They make brownies, they make snickerdoodles and they also do chocolate chip cookies and we include those with every package," said Kinzer-Henry.
The packages also include special cards, ornaments and hand-written letters from school children throughout Madison County, as well as American-made dog treats and bones for a group of K9's deployed out of Birmingham.
"They're soldiers too so we're gonna send to those soldiers as well," she said.
And as these packages go out to Afghanistan, work begins for the next shipment, set for March.
The group mails out packages five times a year to 200 soldiers. The holiday packages are the largest ones they send and cost them nearly $1,000 in postage.
Since the group operates solely on donations, they're grateful for anything people can give towards the mission.
Kinzer-Henry set it up in February 2009 when she was sending care packages to her husband deployed overseas and realized many other soldiers didn't receive anything.