This is the sixth year that Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have facilitated the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Last year, more than 1.3 million cards were delivered to troops deployed overseas and stationed locally.
Pam Fikes, executive director of the Walker-Marion chapter of the Red Cross, said more than 500 cards were contributed to the program by local residents last year.
Fikes said area churches, businesses, schools, civic organizations and other groups are encouraged to host their own card parties and deliver the cards to her by 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov.30. They may also be mailed directly to Holiday Mail for Heroes at P.O. Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456 no later than Friday, Dec. 7.
She added that the goal of Holiday Mail for Heroes is that every service member will receive a handful of cards to lift his or her spirits at Christmas.
One local veteran recently told her how much a delivery of Christmas cards meant to him and his fellow sailors during his military career.
“He said there was nothing better than that day that the cards came and were handed out to everybody. He said after each person got through reading their own, they passed them around until everybody on that submarine had read every card,” Fikes said.
Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and reviewed by Red Cross volunteers.
The following are guidelines from the Red Cross to ensure a quick reviewing process:
•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.