AYDEN, N.C. (WNCT) — The holiday season can be hard for those in the military and their families. One organization in Eastern North Carolina aims to support those currently serving, one care package at a time.

N.C. Packs for Patriots is based in Ayden. Thanks to volunteers and donations from all over ENC, this organization can bring some Christmas cheer to military members.

“We call this the southern branch of the North Pole,” said Barbara Whitehead, founder of NC Packs for Patriots of her organization.

Whitehead said they are packing for a purpose.

(Ken Watlington, WNCT photo)

“We are preparing Christmas for troops who are away from their families and friends and homes for Christmas,” Whitehurst said. “So we try to send a little touch and taste of the holidays to our troops who are serving away.”

Whitehead started N.C. Packs for Patriots in 2004.

“People don’t realize you’re standing within a two-hour drive of the largest bases for all five branches of the military,” Whitehead said.

The nonprofit first collects donations from businesses, churches and individuals from across Eastern North Carolina. Then, volunteers pack those donations to send to service members around the world.

“From the times that I’ve been overseas myself, to have these care packages come in, it makes it a little bit easier to be away from family, especially during the holidays,” said Damon Saxton, a chaplain at Fort Bragg.

What makes Packs 4 Patriots even more remarkable is that everything you see in this facility is donated. That includes what goes into the care packages just like toiletries or maybe some snacks for the troops. Most importantly are donations. The organization needs money to pay for postage to send out the care packages.

“Our Christmas packages alone will probably be about $8,000. And that’s just a one-month, four-week period,” Whitehead said.

People like Judy Dobler are volunteering their time, too.

“Even a small group of two people make a difference. We’ve been coming to N.C. Packs to help for about the last eight years,” Dobler said.

Besides supporting the troops, Dobler said Whitehead is a big reason she keeps coming back to help.

“She’s just one of a kind. We said she should write a book with what she’s been doing because it’s so meaningful to so many people,” Dobler said.

Click here to go to the NC Packs for Patriots website. You can also click here to go to their Facebook page.

You can listen to a special podcast about the organization here. For more People & Places features, click here.