During this week of Thanksgiving, the American Red Cross encourages families across the United States to take some time to share their gratitude in messages to veterans and active-duty members of the armed forces.
The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc. are leading an effort to collect and send 1 million holiday cards to service members overseas and at home through the fourth annual Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign (www.redcross.org/holidaymail).
Whether printed or handmade, the cards carry meaning for the recipients and the senders.
“I love this program,” said singer Amy Grant, a member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet and spokesperson for Holiday Mail for Heroes. “I think it’s the most accessible, hands-on way to express gratitude for anyone in the military.”
Grant and three other members of the Celebrity Cabinet designed cards for the Holiday Mail program that are available on the Red Cross web site. Grant used colored pencils and black markers to design her card for the Holiday Mail program; actress Jane Seymour used watercolor with pen and ink on paper for hers.
Less famous artists have used a variety of media to produce cards that will go to military bases and hospitals, as well as veterans. Carrie Santos brought a troop of eight-year-old Brownies to Red Cross headquarters in mid-November for a card-making event and watched them produce “elaborate” designs, including pop-ups.
“You put construction paper, glue and stickers in front of them, and off they go,” said Santos, who works in international services at Red Cross headquarters. “I found that once you give them the idea, they jump on it.”
For families who want to encourage their young artists to make Holiday Mail for Heroes during Thanksgiving weekend, Santos offered assurance that kids understand the need.
“We told them there are a lot of soldiers who can’t be with their families this year,” she said. “They got it. They felt they were doing something significant.”
The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes will accept holiday cards until December 10, 2010, at Holiday Mail for Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights MD, 20791-5456. Pitney Bowes will screen the cards for hazardous materials, then package and ship them in time for delivery during the holidays.
“I’ve heard so many testimonials from people who have been overseas that letters mean the most,” said Grant, who added handwritten notes to service members on the cards she designed. “Letters are magical….It’s a great time of year to think about someone else and express thankfulness.”