This holiday season, with the help of NFL teams, the American Red Cross is collecting and delivering holiday cards to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world as part of its Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The cards and personal messages, sent by tens of thousands of Americans, provide a welcome “touch of home” for our troops during the holidays when many are separated from their loved ones.
Over the past two years, the Red Cross Tiffany Circle has helped to promote Holiday Mail and was instrumental this year in engaging NFL teams to participate in the program.
“Tiffany Circle’s engagement in the Holiday Mail program is stronger than ever this year with the addition of the NFL component,” said Katie Incantalupo, Tiffany Circle chairperson for Holiday Mail for Heroes within the National Council. “Holiday Mail for Heroes is such a wonderful service because the Red Cross plays a very active role in supporting America’s military families.”
The following NFL teams are participating this year in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program: Atlanta Falcons; Dallas Cowboys; Green Bay Packers; Indianapolis Colts; Miami Dolphins; New Orleans Saints; San Francisco 49ers; Seattle Seahawks; and the St. Louis Rams.
ATLANTA FALCONS In September, the Red Cross Atlanta Chapter partnered with the Falcons’ Rookie Club to surprise fifth grade students who were preparing to write holiday cards to the troops. Wearing their red jerseys, 13 Atlanta Falcons players joined several members of the Army, most who had been stationed overseas, to help a classroom at Roberts Elementary as they created cards with paper, markers, stickers and glue.
The children were excited to have these giant players who they watched on television sit and interact with them. Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi wrote a card himself to the soldiers with help from students at his table.
The soldiers also shared stories with the students of how letters and cards helped boost morale for service members away from home.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS On November 4, Lucas Oil Stadium was decked in red, white and blue as the Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis joins forces with the Indianapolis Colts during their Military Appreciation Day, part of the NFL’s Salute to Service program. Fans were given the opportunity to sign a specially-designed holiday card for members of the military.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS On Veteran’s Day, the Red Cross teamed with New Orleans Saints Owner and Vice-Chairman Rita Benson LeBlanc to not only promote Holiday Mail for Heroes, but to reunite a Louisiana National Guardsman Brandon Davis with his family. Specialist Davis, the father of five children, had been on a nine month tour in Afghanistan and had never met his three-month-old baby.
Before the game kicked off, the Red Cross presented his family with an award on his behalf. Davis appeared on the stadium jumbo-tron sending his family love, when suddenly he came out of the Saints tunnel running towards the arms of his surprised and overjoyed family. Davis was home.
ST. LOUIS RAMS Defensive End Chris Long of the St. Louis Rams volunteered to be the honorary chair of this year’s Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign in St. Louis. As honorary chair, he is featured on the first Rams/ Red Cross holiday card created to send to our troops and he helps to promote the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
The Rams also hosted a card signing at the November 18 home game and supported a card signing event the previous day.
This year marks the sixth year of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Anyone can send holiday cards to the Red Cross to be delivered to the troops. The deadline for having cards to the P.O. Box is Friday, December 7. Holiday cards received after this date cannot be guaranteed delivery. Please follow the Red Cross card guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process.
Each year the American Red Cross provides assistance to more than two million service members and many of our nation’s 24 million veterans. The Red Cross supports military families, military and veterans hospitals and provide emergency communications across the globe.