Spreading holiday cheer to troops, veterans and their families has become a widely embraced tradition across the United States.
Over the past three years, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program has collected millions of holiday cards from individuals, schools, churches and other community groups. This year, Red Cross chapters again witnessed Americans’ enthusiasm for the program.
In Gloucester County, New Jersey, many businesses and community groups participated in the program, and elementary school students contributed their own handmade creations, which will no doubt bring a smile to someone’s face.
In St. Louis, members of the Tiffany Circle group at the Red Cross came together to create cards that will go out to service members, their families and veterans all over the world.
Cari McCollor, a veteran in Minneapolis, will help distribute holiday mail to approximately 20 sites, ranging from veterans homes and adult day centers to army reserve and national guard units throughout the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area. As someone who served in the U.S. Army and the National Guard, McCollor understands the importance of sending holiday wishes..
Many students also got into the act this year. In Mississippi, high school senior Holley Cunningham threw herself a birthday project instead of a party. Because it was her last birthday before going away to college, she added a special element to her annual plan—instill in other teenagers the spirit of giving.
Cunningham enlisted the help of the Pascagoula High School American Red Cross Club and all of the kindergarten through 12th grade students at the Pascagoula School District and Resurrection Catholic Schools. For the entire month of November, students brought in or made holiday cards for troops and veterans.
In early December, Cunningham and her team of “elves” set up card-signing posts in downtown Pascagoula, Miss. The next day, the teens set up at a local grocery store and the local mall. All told, Cunningham collected more than 8,000 cards for the program.
In Wisconsin, members of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Red Cross Club teamed up with GB Nites to help promote Holiday Mail for Heroes. GB Nites is an event that takes place in the Student Union with fun and free events for the students. Many students stopped by to support the program, and nearly everyone knew or knew of someone serving in the Armed Forces.
These are just a few examples from around the country—for more information, or to send your own card (deadline is December 10!), go to www.redcross.org/holidaymail.