Red Cross collects holiday cards for soldiers
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 18,2012
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Michelle Degree of Williston was at the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland Town on Saturday manning a Red Cross booth seeking people to write a holiday card or, if a child, to send a drawing to a member of the armed services.
The American Red Cross collected dozens of holiday cards on Saturday that will be distributed to members of the armed forces and their families, domestically and internationally, as part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Kilik Fairchild and his mother, Alicia Fairchild, of Ohio, stopped by the booth set up at the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland Town to fill out a few cards. In town to visit Kilik’s grandmother, Melinda Brown, of Rutland, Alicia said her brother, John, had been deployed overseas as a member of the Air National Guard and likely would be again.
“We know how it feels. This is a chance to give back,” she said.
Red Cross volunteer Diane LePre, of Cuttingsville, said many people had been willing to fill out one of the generic postcards.
“This is a really good opportunity for parents to bring their kids over. It’s kind of a good example to have the kids think about thanking people they don’t know for the service to their country,” she said.
The cards were blank on the back and had a simple message on the cover, “Warm Wishes” for one and “Happy Holidays” for the other. People were encouraged to use the cards to tell a joke, write a poem or offer a simple thanks. Colored markers were piled on the table set up by the Red Cross for those who wanted to draw a picture.
LePre encouraged people to write “VT” on the card, explaining that it would have special meeting if it made its way to a soldier overseas who happened to come from Vermont.
Michelle Degree, of Williston, a Community College of Vermont student, said she had been at the mall all day. Degree noticed that many of the people who stopped by the table were people who were at the mall with their families.
“They really get into it. The kids really enjoy drawing and leaving their own little marks,” she said.
LePre added that many who filled out cards liked talking about the family members or friends who were either in the military now or in the past.
Debbie Lee, program coordinator for the Red Cross in Central Vermont, said this was the first year of the national program.
On Saturday afternoon, Lee said she was on her way to the mall to pick up the box of cards filled out throughout Saturday. The cards are expected to go to Washington, D.C., and then some will be returned to Vermont to be distributed, Lee said.
Volunteers with the Red Cross will deliver them to places like the National Guard armories, the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington and the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Lee said.
Cards for the program were also collected in Vermont in Burlington, Brattleboro and White River Junction.
The Red Cross is still accepting cards. Only signed cards, not letters, will be accepted, and inserts, like photographs, will not be accepted. Cards should not be addressed to a specific person and should not have glitter, which can come loose and aggravate the health issues of some soldiers and veterans.
The cards, which must be received by Dec. 7, should be sent to “Holiday Mail for Heroes” at PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.
Information about the Holiday Mail for Heroes program is available on the Internet at redcross.org/holidaymail.