Red Cross sends 2,000 cards to troops

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Suffolk branch of Red Cross sorted and distributed more than 2,000 Christmas cards for servicemembers, their families and veterans who may find themselves away from loved ones during the holidays.

This is the third year that the Holiday Mail for Heroes program has provided Americans with the opportunity to send their holiday greetings and words of thanks to service members and veterans through the partnership between the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc.

“The cards were so touching, they were all done by children who really seem to understand what these men and women are giving,” said Ashley Greene, development director for the Suffolk Red Cross.

Cards included messages saying: “Thank you for your bravery.” “You’re the most courageous people I know.” “Thank you for giving us our freedom.”

Cards were sent to the Red Cross from Nov. 2 to Dec. 7 and were shipped to Pitney Bowes, where they were screened and then delivered to military bases and hospitals, veterans’ hospitals and other locations for the holidays.

“We took them to veterans, nursing homes, Joint Forces Command and the Naval Station, because there are so many ships in port,” Greene said.

The effort began in 2007 when officials at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center approached the Red Cross to ask for help distributing thousands of cards that came in for wounded soldiers.

“We function as a messaging arm for the military. “If there is a message that needs to get out there, we make sure it’s delivered,” Greene said.

“It’s an honor for our community to help make the holidays special for American heroes,” said Faye Byrum, executive director of the Suffolk Chapter. “The American Red Cross serves and supports members of the military, veterans and their families by providing emergency communications, comfort and assistance each day. The Holiday Mail for Heroes program continues the Red Cross tradition of service to the armed forces.”