By Lee Braff, Communications Volunteer
It’s a simple idea: Civilians from many places in the United States send holiday greeting cards to veterans and military personnel now actively serving. The cards convey both seasonal good wishes and appreciation for the person’s service.
Courtney Hinton, Specialist in Service to the Armed Forces, explained why the Red Cross is requesting signed but unsealed cards, containing no glitter, now.
“The reason we need cards so much in advance is that the Army wants to be sure the cards are appropriate and contain no glitter,” Hinton said. “For those who forget and put in personal information, those are screened. It’s not a pen pal service. When they reach a local chapter, we go through and screen them to make sure that an appropriate person receives the card.”
Hinton mentioned that donors need to remember that all service members—active and retired—are eligible to receive greeting cards.
“Not every veteran is a 6-foot, 2-inch young man recuperating in a hospital. They could be an elderly man or an elderly woman,” Hinted said. “Even if they’re active duty, they might be serving at Scott Air Force Base, not necessarily in combat.”
The St. Louis Area Chapter has participated in the effort for a number of years.
“It started off with a couple of organizations wanting to contribute something for veterans,” Hinton said. “Simon Malls was involved several years ago; it sponsored signing events.
“Simon Malls purchased the cards and contributed them to the Red Cross. I believe they also mailed them off, so that we could be spreading greetings from around the country.”
This year the major card-signing event took place at the St. Louis Rams game Nov. 3 at the Rams Military Appreciation game.
This year, the Red Cross is also encouraging schools to conduct card signings. The school or class that sends the most cards will win a Rams PLAY 60 assembly, complete with a Rams player appearance. To learn more about organizing a card-signing event, please email Kelsey Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hinton said that last year, the Tiffany Circle, a society comprised of women who give time, talent, and treasure to the American Red Cross, along with several corporate partners, took the program to new heights.
Hinton stressed that the personal message in a card needs to be appropriate to people in many situations.
“We welcome and encourage everyone to participate, and help encourage veterans,” he said. “Just keep in mind that not everyone is in combat and not everyone is convalescing from combat wounds. We don’t know who’s going to receive it.”