Thanks to a Barrie mother and Operation Santa Claus Simcoe, a number of Canada’s soldiers serving overseas will not be forgotten this holiday season.

For the past eight years, Diana Monterio has shipped Christmas packages to military personnel.

The tradition stemmed from when her son Jonathan served in the Canadian Armed forces; including a tour in Afghanistan from 2009 until 2011.

“He liked to receive the parcels,” said Monterio. “But he was embarrassed because he was receiving things and his friends were not getting much, very rarely they got a package.”

It was at that moment, she knew what she had to do. Since then, Monterio has sent thousands of packages overseas.

With the help of others including John Van Der Marel and TD Bank, Monterio graciously prepares Christmas goodies for the soldiers including books, snacks, and toiletries.

“She does it out of the graciousness of her heart,” said Van Der Marel. “She has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen. She is a very generous person, (and) she’s one that would give you the last penny if she had to.”

The first year, Monterio sent 192 parcels. This year, she will send 455 boxes to troops in Latvia.

While her son hasn’t been on tour in seven years, she says she will continue to send the boxes to the brave men and women fighting for our freedom.

“Personally, I believe I live in the best country in the world because of what they did for us,” said Monterio.