Lending a (written) hand: Holiday Mail for Heroes

Every Thanksgiving morning, my sister and I get up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and honor a new but very fun tradition: addressing our holiday cards. As the bustle of Christmas really ramps up and we found ourselves long on things to do and short on energy and time in which to do them, it’s easy to let simple craft projects — like card-making — fall by the wayside.

I’m a strong believer in the power of mail and connecting through the written word. I’m an active member of Postcrossing, an international postcard sharing site, and trade handwritten notes with friends and fellow bloggers as often as possible. In our increasingly high-tech and high-powered world, the art of letter-writing — any writing, really — appears to be less relevant. Teens talk and write academic papers in LOL- and text-speak. Facebook groups annouce engagements, babies, travel plans. We communicate through Twitter and texting. We don’t even pick up the phone.

And look, I get it — I’m pretty plugged in myself. It’ll be a cold, dark day before you pry my smartphone from my limp fingers or get me to shut down my social media or this blog itself. But I don’t think those channels should replace things like real, honest-to-goodness mail. In 100 years, will anyone be looking through family heirlooms to read old love tweets between their great-grandparents?

Well, I mean — maybe. Who knows. Look how much our technology has changed in just a decade. In two decades. It’s unrecognizable.

But you’re following me on this, right?

Last year while snacking on breakfast foods and waving to Santa on his sleigh ride through New York City, I did something simple: while writing out my usual batch of cards to friends and family, I added a few cards for Holiday Mail for Heroes. I used my regular Christmas cards, most of which I buy in boxed sets for less than $10. I added a personal note thanking a service member for their sacrifice and shared news about my corner of the world, trying to spread holiday wishes and cheer.

It’s cheap. It’s fast. It’s very easy. And it makes a difference.

Operated by the Red Cross, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program asks volunteers to send holiday cards to be collected and distributed to military service members in December. Now through Dec. 9, send your cards — any holiday card you like — to help make someone’s season brighter.

“The process is very simple and takes no time at all,” the Red Cross writes. “All you need is a pen and piece of paper to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the U.S. Armed Forces make to protect our freedoms. … Sending a ‘touch of home’ to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.”

Holiday cards can be sent to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

For more information and card guidelines, visit the Holiday Mail for Heroes website — and check out the video below. See if it doesn’t warm your heart.

Gather the family and make card-sending a new holiday tradition. You won’t be sorry you did.

12 thoughts on “Lending a (written) hand: Holiday Mail for Heroes

  1. Thank you for pointing out this wonderful idea! I will be sure to spread the word and do this as well! We still need to let the men and women of our Armed Services know we are still thinking of them, hoping they ALL come home safely!


  2. Thank you for posting this! Someone had mentioned this to me last week, and I made a mental note to send some, and of course, forgot the mental note! I actually have a box of cards at my desk at work, believe it or not, from last year, so I will send a few out at lunch for sure, and then get more boxes later…


  3. What a fabulous idea! One of the things I love most about the holiday season is writing out my Christmas and Holiday cards, so I’m definitely going to pick up some extra cards and send them into the Red Cross. Thanks for letting me know!


  4. My kids and I made 15 cards to send to the troops. They are 5 and 3 and had a blast coloring pictures inside and I wrote the messages. Thanks for the great idea!

    I read your article today (11/17) and really enjoyed it. My dad writes for the papers (James Drake–sports) and I thought it was touching how your dad has a legacy. Sometimes I find you and I are at different places in our lives (based on your musings–and affection for Hanson–I must be a decade older, married twice, 3 kids), but I always like your column. Maybe you know my parents. My mom was the band director at Arthur Middleton. Her name was Mrs. K.


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  6. Beautiful post and great idea! I hadn’t heard about this before. I will definitely be working on getting some in before the deadline!

    And I agree with so much of what you wrote about in this post. I find myself struggling with this a lot lately. I love the written word – and I’m talking about print on paper so much but I feel that more and more people don’t take the time to get words on paper.

    It is so nice to know that in you I have a kindred spirit!


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