A Cheery Christmas for Charlie Company

"It's not easy . . . it's really hard," admits Amber Hedrick. She's spending this Christmas far from her husband, Donald, a National Guard staff sergeant in Company "C," 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry.

Hedrick, like many others with loved ones in the Guard, often cope with the distance alone. But not this Christmas.

"Just being here makes you feel like you're a little closer to him maybe," she says.

Families of the troops are celebrating the holidays together this year.

"Santa Claus came and visited with all the children and all the troops that are here. They had to go and sit on Santa's lap," Hedrick said.

There were presents for everyone and crafts for the kids. Families mingled and made a banner, cards and goodie bags for the troops. Lisa Saylor, a military wife who organized the party, says it was a very important get-together.

"Some of the families have never gone through this before and it's very depressing and I wanted them to have a good time," Saylor said.

Many admit it's tough to have a loved one in the National Guard.

"When their husband, father, brother, son leave, those families really have to support each other," says Colleen Mulleen, part of the Guard's family support network. She hopes to raise the community's awareness with blue candles.

"All family members are asked to burn a blue candle in their window until the troops return home safely," Hedrick explained.

"They're gone but they're not forgotten," Saylor added.

If you would like to spread some Christmas cheer to Charlie Company, consider buying a blue candle from the National Guard. All donations will be used to send the troops food and gifts.

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