Monday, November 18, 2013

Spreading Happiness to Heroes Through Holiday Mail

By Dana Ayers, Volunteer Contributor

Looking for a way to show appreciation to our service members this holiday season? The annual American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign allows you to send cards and personal messages of encouragement to our military heroes around the world. It's a way for us to bring a smile or just a touch of home to service members who cannot be with their families for the holidays.

I personally can attest to how much simple gestures mean to my friends who have served. I remember asking a friend deployed to Iraq if he needed anything and him insisting he was fine. A couple of friends and I created a card and sent it to him anyway - he immediately told me how much it meant to him. I honestly thought he wouldn't care either way, but his words back to me showed just how much he and his troops really did need to know people cared back home.

With the ending of the Iraq war, and the war in Afghanistan coming to a close, I've heard my friends who've served admit that they feel like America has forgotten them. They worry some people don't even realize we are still fighting and have already forgotten those who fought in years past. The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is an easy way to let them know they're wrong - that we have not forgotten their service.

There are several ways you can participate. You can send cards to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Or, you can sign cards in person throughout November at the Red Cross and NetApp table in Tysons Corner Center. Located on level 2 outside of Bloomingdales and American Girl - schedule below:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays: 2-6pm
Tuesdays, Thursdays: 10am-2pm
Saturdays, Sundays: 11am-5pm
Black Friday: 9am-3pm

This is a great way to engage your whole family in this program while you are shopping for holidays gifts! Additionally, you can use social media to participate. Simply tag photos or video messages with the #HolidayMail hashtag and the Red Cross will post on the national blog. Videos will be posted on a special Holiday Mail page so that any hospital, military installation, or veterans center can stream videos. (Also, the stream can be accessed at anytime, simply look up #HolidayMail on Twitter.)

Let our military heroes know they're still on our minds, especially during the holidays! Watch below to see what your mail could mean to a hero this holiday season!

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