SHELBY, N.C. -- Margaret Cook's home in Shelby has plenty of guests this holiday season: hundreds, in fact!

"When my friends come over, they are surprised that there are as many variations of them as there are," Cook said.

Cook served as a USO Hostess during WWII, often helping soldiers. It was during that time she learned that soldiers stationed near Germany would buy Nutcrackers to bring home for their parents and friends.

"I thought, gee I could do that in memory of the boys I wrote to," Cook said.

Margaret started out with 15 nutcrackers to honor and remember the "memory of the boys" she wrote to. That collection has turned into roughly 300 with the help of her son.

"I just thought it would be a nice way to honor them in our home," she said.

Margaret hopes that one day her collection will find a new home around Shelby for children to enjoy.

So what's on Margaret's wish list this year?

"More compassion for the military. More compassion in general. We're lacking that today. Compared to when we grew up," she lamented.