The American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter collected 3,537 Holiday Mail for Heroes cards that will be sent to services members and veterans around the corner and around the world.
“This was just a tremendous show of support for those who are serving or who have served our country,” said Clayton Kennedy, the chapter’s community market manager and local program coordinator. “I was especially impressed with the number of cards that came from students. We had students from kindergarten to high school either making or signing cards.”
Schools from all parts of the chapter’s 21 county coverage area took part in Holiday Mail for Heroes, which was sponsored locally by Columbia Insurance Group and Commerce Bank.
“Every card we send to a military member or veteran is special, but those that come from kids are extra special,” Kennedy said.
The chapter also had three public card signings - two in Columbia and one in Jefferson City. Organizations, companies, youth groups and individuals also turned in cards for the program, which began in October.
About 2,200 cards were handmade. Others were prepared cards made available through a partnership with the St. Louis Rams.
Kennedy said the chapter sent out about 750 cards last year and had a goal of sending 2,000 cards this year.
“This was really more than I expected,” Kennedy said. “I thought more than doubling our goal from last year was ambitious, but the response from people across the chapter made the program successful. Some of the messages were just awesome.”
The cards will be sent to Washington, D.C. where they will be screened. Cards will then be distributed across the country and world.
Chapter staff and volunteers will hand deliver cards during the holiday season to veterans at the Truman VA Hospital and at VA homes in Mexico and St. James.