Red Cross announces Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, November 21, 2013

JANESVILLE—If you love to find greeting cards in your mailbox, imagine how a U.S. service member feels getting greetings from home.

It warms their hearts and brings smiles to their faces knowing they are not forgotten while serving their country, especially during the holidays, said Mary Liz Murphy, American Red Cross services to the armed forces regional manager.

That's why the Red Cross created the Holiday Mail for Heroes program in 2006. Since then, it has received and distributed more than 6.5 million holiday cards for members of the U.S. armed forces, she said.

The Red Cross, which also provides comfort and care to wounded warriors, veterans and their families in military and veterans hospitals stateside and abroad, collected more than 35,000 cards in Wisconsin last year during the holiday campaign, Murphy said.

“It's such a happy, easy, feel-good activity that makes a difference,” she said.

For those away from home or alone, the holidays can be a sad time, Murphy said.

“So these little, simple things we can do to show we care and let troops know they're thought of is very important. Military commanders tell us many service members don't receive anything at holiday time and don't have family. So this means a lot to hear from the American people that they are appreciated and thought about at the holidays,” she said.

The theme of this year's program is "Give Something That Means Something."

The Red Cross offered these card-making tips:

-- Use a generic greeting such as "Dear service member," "Dear veteran" or "Dear military family members" to make cards meaningful to a wide audience. Include sentiments and sign all cards.

-- Bundle cards without envelopes inside one single, large envelope.

-- Refrain from using glitter because it can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients.

-- Do not enclose any letters, care packages, money, gifts or personal information with the holiday cards because they will be removed during sorting.

-- Get people involved in a card-making event.

Store-bought cards are fine, Murphy said, “but the cards that mean the most are the homemade ones.”

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