WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (October 21, 2019) – Every year, the American Red Cross’ Holiday for Heroes campaign provides the community an opportunity to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer to veterans and military members.
These items and messages are graciously donated by the community and placed inside holiday stockings hand-sewn by volunteers. For more than 10 years, Red Cross volunteers have cut and sewn hundreds of stockings in the Naples and Fort Myers area.
This year, the Red Cross has expanded the campaign throughout the South Florida Region, where lead partner Arthrex, Inc. and other sponsors will assemble and deliver these stuffed holiday stockings for military members who are away from their families during the holidays.
“I have personally been on a one-year deployment to the Middle East and I can say from experience how much these efforts mean to our service members,” said Heidi O’Sheehan, director of Service to the Armed Forces in South Florida. “When you are far from home, especially around the holidays, you begin to feel forgotten and very detached, so to receive a care package or even a brief note of appreciation and well wishes from someone back home who doesn’t even know you personally is just incredibly powerful and touching. It makes you feel connected and reminds you that the sacrifices you and your family are making are for a worthy cause and are not forgotten. I think that is an incredible gift to give a service member or veteran.”
Last year, more than 1,000 stockings were delivered to soldiers serving overseas and Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter of the Red Cross received a letter from Cassandra Wyatt, the station manager at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, sharing her appreciation and gratitude for the care packages.
“Your support lends strength and fortitude while they are away from home,” said Wyatt. “Many of the service members and organizations will “re-gift” items to other members as well as drop off items to be shared with the deployed population, especially those further deployed into greater hardship areas.”
The community can help support this campaign by donating the following items:
- Drink & hot cocoa mix (individual packets)
- Power bars
- Gum, mints, hard candy (no chocolate)
- Individually packaged/travel size snacks (nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, crackers, cookies)
- Non-perishable meat (individual packets of tuna, chicken, salmon; not canned)
- Lip balm
- Small packs of baby wipes
- Small puzzle books, playing cards, yo-yo’s, hacky sacks
- Cards and letters of appreciation (Please do not write your last name, address or personal contact info. Please use wording that will encompass the holiday spirit without reference to race or religion as these will go to a diverse group of service members. Also please do not put your cards or letters in an envelope.)
Donations MUST be dropped off by Wednesday, Nov. 6at the designated drop off locations.
For a full list of drop off locations and to learn more about Holiday for Heroes, please visit redcross.org/holidayforheroes.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/southflorida or visit us on Facebook and Twitter at @SFLRedCross.
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