Sandy Mall is gathering gifts for American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and merchants report strong public support.

"The response has been phenomenal," said Cathy Flox, the promotion's director. "It's heartening to know how much everyone is thinking of our servicemen in the Middle East.Merchants at the mall, 9400 South and 700 East, are collecting items to send the men and women of Operation Desert Shield, including letters, cards and small gifts. Even before any fliers or press releases were distributed, people had donated two huge boxes of greetings.

Suggested items for the effort include stationery, pens, drawing materials, board games, cards, paperback and comic books, and blank or prerecorded tapes, both audio and video.

The collection will continue through Saturday, Dec. 8. Drop-off points at Sandy Mall are at Gledhills, Carousel Ice Cream Parlor, the mall's office in the interior courtyard, Baskin-Robbins, Brand-T-Fashions and the Army recruiting station on the mall's eastern side.