A BENDIGO preschool has been supporting Australian troops who are stationed overseas.
The Havilah Road Preschool has spent the past two years creating care packages for the troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.
The children, families, and staff have been donating goods so the packages can be sent each year for Anzac Day and Christmas.
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While 2020 has been a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher Gail Dwyer said the preschool was able to create a record number of 18 packages for this Christmas.
"We have been very generous this year," Mrs Dwyer said. "The packages really bind the community together. The preschool is really the centre and a hub in the community. The parents feel like they can contribute."
Mrs Dwyer said the preschool started the initiative in 2018 as a way to increase community involvement.
"We heard about it on the radio," she said. "We followed it up and got in touch with them on Facebook. We managed just two boxes in our first year."
Mrs Dwyer said since then, the whole community had embraced the initiative - from the families who donated items, to early educators Beth and Casie who collated the packages, and the Long Gully Post Office who sent the packages for free.
"We're really trying to boost our community and bring them together," Mrs Dwyer said.
Mrs Dwyer said it wasn't just about the donations but also education.
"We talk about Remembrance Day and do a minute silence with the kids," she said. "We discuss mateship and talk about the poppies.
"We don't really talk about the war itself because we feel they will learn that in their own time."
Mrs Dwyer said the troops have always appreciated their efforts.
"They are a long way from home and it brings a smile to their face," she said. "We have received feedback from the soldiers as well, including letters to thank us."
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