The American Red Cross shows its support for our county’s troops every year by hosting Holiday Mail for Heroes’ parties all over America, and this year is no different.
Pam Fikes, executive director of the Red Cross Walker-Marion chapter, oversaw the day’s activity Thursday morning. Fikes has worked at the Red Cross in Jasper for three years, and she always looks forward to this particular time of year.
“Every year we get together and make Christmas cards for the troops, for the service members,” Fikes said. “We invite the community to either come to a card-making party and make cards, today like we did, or we invite people to make cards at their church or their civic organizations or at home, wherever, and just bring the cards to us for delivery.”
Fikes said the Red Cross partnered with Pitney Bowes — which provides services related to packaging, mailing and shipping — in order to ship the cards all over the world. She said 1,450 cards were sent to Afghanistan last year, and this year’s shipment will be going to the men and women of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga.
The Jasper branch of the Red Cross has already received some cards, but different groups and individuals within the community, including clients from the ARC of Walker County, stopped by Thursday and enjoyed making Christmas cards while listening to seasonal music and having refreshments. Red Cross board members and area residents also participated Thursday. Students at Bevill State Community College also hosted a card-making party sponsored by the college’s SGA that will be delivered to the Red Cross.
“It’s important for the volunteers to have this connection with the service people who are deployed all over the world, to be able to thank them personally,” Fikes said. “ ... It’s really touching to them and to everybody that’s involved to be able to just take a minute to put yourself in that situation with that person overseas at Christmas away form their family, and they get this Christmas card from someone they don’t know thanking them for what they’re doing and wishing them a happy holiday. It’s a great connection; it’s not only great for the service people who receive the cards, but it’s also great for the people who writing the cards.”
If you or an organization would like to participate, here are some options and guidelines listed by American the Red Cross:
•You can donate blank cards for us to use at our card-making party. The Red Cross needs these by the close of business Nov. 8.
•You, or your church, or your school can make cards and bring them to us for delivery by close of business Nov. 22.
•Make and mail your own cards. The deadline for having cards to the P.O. Box is Dec. 6.
Guidelines for the program include:
•Ensure that all cards are signed.
•Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals cannot be delivered through this program.
•Only cards are being accepted. Do not send or include letters.
•Do not include email or home addresses on the cards: the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
•Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos — these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
•Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
•If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes.
Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.
Mail to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
For more information or if you have questions, call the office at (205) 387-1478. The American Red Cross Walker-Marion Chapter is located at 1101 Viking Drive in Jasper.