Sunday, October 28, 2012

Signed, Sealed and Delivered!

I make a lot of cards.  Every fall I make Christmas cards to send to all my family and friends.  I try to keep up with all the thank you, get well, birthday and sympathy cards when I have the time.  Sometimes I forget to mail the cards once I’ve made them (sorry if I missed your birthday this year!), and I always have a lot of extra cards from swaps that I don’t know what to do with them.  I mean, you can only send out Christmas cards once a year, right? So what do you when you have lots of extra cards and nowhere to send them?  Send them to a soldier!

I’ll be the first to admit it…I talk a lot about supporting our military, but I don’t really do much to show it.  I post things on Facebook and I send out chain emails with slogans like “Thank a Soldier” and “Thank You for Serving.”  I even buy a few extra Girl Scout cookies and gather up extra canned food and toiletries to send overseas.  Sadly, I don’t ever take that next step, and I always feel like I don’t do nearly enough.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really do mean every word of those Facebook posts and emails, but like many of you, I feel a little shy when it comes to thanking our military in person.  I find it more than a little difficult to walk up to a stranger in uniform and thank him for his service, and I have never gone down to the airport to wave at soldiers coming home on leave.  Even among our family and friends who’ve served, it is often a topic that never comes up in conversation.

These young men and women do deserve our thanks and support.  Many of them leave behind husbands, wives, and children for a year or more…all in service to our country so that people like you and me can sit here in the comfort of our homes and make handmade cards.  They give up most of the creature comforts that we take for granted, and they don’t ask for much of anything in return.  Most of them don’t even earn enough money to live above the poverty line.  That’s why sending cards to active-duty servicemen and women is an important way to show our support and thank these fine young people for their sacrifice.

What can you do to help?  Send them some cards!  There are a number of organizations that could benefit from any extra cards that you might want to make.  Whether it’s sending individual notes of thanks to service personnel, or putting together boxes of cards for soldiers to send out to family, these groups have taken care of all the logistics necessary to make sure your card gets where it needs to go.  The only thing they ask is that you observe a few simple guidelines:

  • No glitter!  Glitter is a safety hazard for our troops because it could make them visible to someone with night-vision goggles.
  • Cards must be size A2 only.  That’s a standard 4.25” x 5.5” card.  You can get two cards from a single piece of 8.5” x 11” cardstock.
  • Quality is more important that quantity.  Remember that for some, your card may be the last communication with their family.  Please help make sure they get the very best – they deserve it!
  • Some dimension is okay, but please do not create extra-tall dimensional cards.  The bulk makes them difficult to mail and reduces the number of cards that can be shipped out in one box.
  • Do not send store-bought cards.  The idea here is to provide something handmade.
  • Keep the recipient in mind when you design your cards.  Please do not send items that say, “Wish you were here” or use any kind of explicit images or sentiments.  Do not use skulls, graves, or death images or sentiments for Halloween cards. 
  • For more specific requests, please check the requirements of each particular organization.  For instance, Operation Write Home specifies no handwritten sentiments on the inside or outside of the card, but Any Hero cards can be handwritten.

Want to know where you can send your cards? Here are some great organizations to check out:

Send Blank Cards as Well as Greetings to Soldiers:

Operation Write Home
Sends boxes of cards to soldiers so they can write home to their families.  With each box, they also include “Any Hero Mail”, which are cards and letters of support.

Send Blank Cards for Soldiers to Use:

Sends blank cards for soldiers to use.

Send a Greeting or Letter to a Soldier:

See Operation Write Home above

Send Items or Packages to Soldiers:

Soldiers’ Angels -
Sends personal items to veterans.

As it so happens, I know a young man who went to school with my daughter who is currently serving in Afghanistan.  I only knew Brian in passing when my daughter was in school, but I got to know him a lot better when he became a lifeguard at the pool where my son competed in high school.  Brian deployed this summer, and I promised him some handmade cards (his mom is an avid scrapbooker!).  If you’d like to help me send Brian some cards, I will be accepting deliveries from now through December 31st, 2012.  Simply follow the guidelines above, include a personal greeting in the card, or write a letter, put it in an envelope (but don’t seal it!) and send it to me.  The shipping address is on the Contact Us page of the Crafty Neighbor website.  I will send whatever cards I receive out to him each week. 

I hope you will consider sending some cards to troops.  They really do enjoy receiving all the mail with kind letters of support, and they really appreciate the blank cards so they can write home to their families.  When your loved one is half a world away, that card can make a huge difference.

Now go make some cards!