A local Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary group is collecting toys for area kids and items for deployed soldiers for Christmas.

Robert Jack VFW Post 1322 Auxiliary is accepting donations of items for care packages that will be sent to troops overseas for the Christmas holidays, said auxiliary president Holly Baker.

“We have troops overseas and they’re sacrificing their time with their family, and they’re possibly sacrificing their lives for us,” Baker said. “This is the least we can do for them to make them feel a little bit more at home during the holidays.”

Items being collected include heat-resistant candy, travel size dental hygiene items, flavored drink mixes, non-perishable food items such as beef jerky, granola bars and sandwich crackers, individual packets of medicine, travel size toiletries and grooming tools, resealable baggies, prepaid phone cards, games such as cards or puzzle books, and batteries.

Post cards, pre-addressed, can be included with the packages asking recipients to send them back as notification that a package was received. Post cards do not need to have a stamp.

Personal letters for the soldiers can also be included in the packages.

Items can be dropped off at Wagner’s Quick Lube, and the Crawford County Democratic Party also are collecting items for the auxiliary.

Sheila Bell, Crawford County Democratic Party chair, said the group is asking members to bring items to their Nov. 14 meeting.

“We’re asking people to bring something large or small, a lot or a little bit, it doesn’t matter - everything counts,” Bell said. “It’s a great way to give back to our soldiers.”

Complete packages will be sent to a center for Operation Shoebox in Florida, which then sends on the packages at a soldier’s request.

Last year the auxiliary group was able to collect enough items for 36 care packages. The goal for this year is to put together 50 care packages, Baker said.

Auxiliary members also are collecting toys to be given out to area children for Christmas, Baker said. The group is hoping to collect enough for 100 families, she said.

“Anything and everything anyone would like to donate, as far as toys go, would be fantastic,” Baker said.

To donate a toy, contact Baker at info@robertjackvfwaux1322.org or (479) 445-9303.