The elves were members of the Interact Club, a service group at Unionville High, where 20 care packages were recently assembled for an entire military unit, whose yearlong tour of duty began in March.

District officials said the school-wide effort to send holiday cheer to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan began 10 years ago and keeps growing, thanks to student and community support. This year, high school students wrote letters expressing gratitude to the men and women stationed overseas, and one student did a project that solicited cards from elementary-school students.

In addition, officials said the students collected donations that included food, toiletries, DVDs, and postage, and the Kennett Square Resale Book Shoppe added boxes of books.

The effort is particularly heartwarming for Patti McDonough, an attendance secretary at the high school, officials said. Her son, Robert McDonough, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, graduated from Unionville in 2002 and was inducted into the school's Wall of Honor in 2010.