The holiday season is supposed to be about giving, but when kids start filling out their wish lists or writing letter to Santa, the gimmes can easily run rampant this time of year. Here's a simple way to remind your child(ren) that there are others who have more to worry about than whether Santa will bring the hoped for iPad or iAnything. Have your child(ren) send a card to an active duty member of our military or a veteran through the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Through Holiday Mail for Heroes, the Red Cross delivers holiday cards to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world. The video shows injured soldiers receiving their cards, and one viewing will have you reaching for a card and a stamp.
The Red Cross asks that senders please observe the following guidelines 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 can not 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.
All holiday greetings should be addressed and sent to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
One catch: you need to act fairly quickly. Only mail received by Dec. 7 can be guaranteed delivery before the holidays. It only takes a few minutes to have your child make or sign one card. Pop it in the mail tomorrow. If you want to send more, great, but remember that even one card makes a big difference to the person receiving it. This small act of kindness may also be enough to remind your child that it is important to think of others and to give of themselves this time of year. Watch the video with your tween and talk with them about how even a small effort of 5 minutes has an impact.
Another option with no time limit would be writing letters to soldier through Operation Gratitude with good wishes for the coming new year. They accept letters year round. You can find information on sending letter through them here. Also, consider getting in touch with your local VA hospital (you can locate it here) to see if they will accept holiday cards.