Hudson volunteers provide troop support sewing stockings
HUDSON -- Growing up in Stratham, just two miles from Pease Air Force Base, Susan McKenney was quite familiar with the sights and sounds of military planes and the stories of the servicemen and women who made their living inside them.
Over the years, McKenney's family placed a great emphasis on supporting the troops working at the nearby military base - a tradition that endured for many years.
When McKenney, who now lives in Hudson, learned that her parents had recently joined up with the Pease Greeters, she too wanted to get involved.
The Pease Greeters, a group of dedicated volunteers, is best known for their patriotic displays at arrivals and departures of military troops.
The several hundred volunteer greeters share the common mission of offering cheerful tidings to soldiers on flights that are fueling up before heading overseas or returning from their missions at the former Air Force base in Portsmouth.
Founded in the spring of 2005, when members of the Seacoast Detachment Marine Corps League met their first flight of veterans, the group now greets flights both returning and heading overseas, according to the organization's website.
Since then, the greeters haven't missed a flight at Pease, often assembling within an hour's notice with some volunteers driving up to 100 miles to be there.
"A lot of them are folks in their seventies or eighties and they're out there at two or three in the morning, waving flags and showing their support," McKenney said.
However, the organization does much more than welcomes and farewells - they also send care packages, complete with handmade hats and Christmas stockings, to men and women stationed overseas.
"Hearing this, I knew this was something I could do," McKenney said. "I'm a lifelong sewer, and I know a lot of people who sew."
Joining up with fellow Hudson resident Linda Harper, McKenney reached out to the staff at Rodgers Memorial Library as well as area sewing aficionados and local quilting shops.
This past Saturday, an old-fashioned sewing circle was in full swing in the library's meeting room.
Around 20 volunteers from all over the Merrimack Valley were hard at work at their various production stations, with some cutting and pinning patterns, others measuring fabric and sitting behind whirring sewing machines.
By day's end, the volunteers had created several dozen quilted stockings, all in patriotic colors and prints, to bring a bit of cheer to troops who won't make it home for the holidays this year.
Others who were unable to attend Saturday's workshop helped out the cause by donating fabric and other materials.
"The only requirement we had is that all stockings have to be red, white and blue," Harper said.
Additional workshops will likely be scheduled in the future, McKenney said, while others will sew stockings at home.
The stockings will be given to the Pease Greeters in mid-October and will be placed in care packages being shipped out Nov. 1.