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‘Santa Calls’ for WV National Guard Families

December 16, 2011

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - The West Virginia National Guard is helping Santa visit Guard members' families that he might otherwise miss this year.

Susan Izzo, the Guard's state youth coordinator, works with their "Santa Calls" program. In light of the depressed economy and the financial stress of repeated deployments, she explains, the 'man in red' might have some trouble getting around to all the children of National Guard members this year. So, Santa Calls is taking requests from those families, and is looking for sponsors who can lend a hand.

"I collect the names and information from the Guard families, their toy choices and clothing sizes, and I hand those choices and sizes off to the sponsors."

Izzo says deployment often cuts into the family budget, adding to the pressures on parents.

"Whenever they deploy, they may not make the same amount of money as they do on their civilian jobs. So, that really does cause a tremendous financial stress to the family unit."

She says the National Guard's four state family resource centers were contacted 65,000 times last year on all sorts of issues, including behavioral health and marital problems. The repeated deployments can be especially hard on teens, she adds.

"My son in particular, he went from a great student to having to attend summer school because of the deployment stress during my husband's deployment."

Anyone who wants to help or has a question can call the family resource center in Charleston, 866-986-4326, during office hours.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV