Holidays for Heroes

Today, Ted Poe, a U.S. Congressman from Texas, launched his annual Christmas card drive for military personnel overseas.  Whether you were on one side or the other during last night’s debates, we are all on the same side when it comes to supporting our troops who sacrifice Christmas with their families.

Poe’s office collects hand-made or purchased cards addressed to “Dear Service Member.”  The cards cannot have glitter or personal information. (See link above for instructions.)

A brief search reveals that his drive is just one of many that begin this month, with collection deadlines ranging from mid-November to early December.

Although there are many ways to send packages to military personnel, the deadline for parcel post is the second week of November.

A variety of groups, including church, scouts, youth, school and others begin drives to collect care packages, but without early planning, the rush to get them packaged and mailed in time can outweigh the joy of preparing the packages.  While we’re just 80 days away from Christmas, it’s more like 50 days or fewer to some of the deadlines mentioned above. As a former Scout leader and PTA president, I remember planning care package collections and events that took place in November (when we’re all thinking about Christmas), but it was already too late to mail the material without significant extra cost.

The Red Cross holds Holiday Mail for Heroes, an annual card drive.  It has not updated its information, but this is the link to last year’s drive.

One struggle can be for a well-meaning group to establish a line of contact that leads to a successful care package or card drive.  I’ve looked through many resources, and what strikes me is that there are  links that date from the early 2000’s, which at first look viable but are no longer accurate.  One excellent clearinghouse of information is Operation We Are Here, a website that offers support services to military personnel and their families.  There is an entire section of the website devoted to cards, letters and care packages, with connections to many  individual groups.  What I appreciate about the website is the focus on many different age groups and interests, so the well-meaning organization can match with the appropriate fundraiser or drive.

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