Friday, December 9, 2011

What Holiday Mail for Heroes Means To Me...

There’s been quite a bit of talk on this here blog about the Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign, but in case you’re just now hearing about it for the first time, I encourage you to read on. Today I’d like to share with you my 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes experience.

For the fifth time, the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have partnered together to provide Americans with an opportunity to send holiday cards to United States service members, veterans, and their families. Anyone is welcome to participate, which is why I when I was approached by Mrs. Regier, Principal of Marshall Elementary School to come out and participate in their Holiday Mail for Heroes card creation and signing party I couldn't resist!

When Anya Goosev, our Regional Community Resource Manger and I showed up I was thrilled to see 30 first graders and a mountain of signed Holiday cards. So in order to explain what the program was all about and who the Red Cross is, I kicked off our morning by talking to these 30 six- and seven-year-olds about the mission and the work of the Red Cross.

My questions, “Have any of you heard of the American Red Cross?”, “What does the American Red Cross do?”, and “How does the American Red Cross help people?” prompted quite a few interesting answers, comments, and stories about things that are red, various kinds of crosses, thunder and lightning storms, and stopping/dropping/rolling. After the fifth or sixth “One time, when I was three, I heard thunder outside my window” story (think “One time, at band camp…”), I was able to bring the kids back around to why I was there, and we moved on to discussing the support the American Red Cross provides to the United States Military.

I could see on these children’s faces that the idea of someone – anyone – not getting to spend the holidays with their family was foreign. A couple of children, whose parents aren’t even members of the Armed Forces, actually asked me if their dads would have to go away for Christmas this year.

Six- and seven-year-olds have not quite yet mastered the art of writing, so while they all “signed” their names and wrote some sort of greeting (or something loosely resembling that), their cards were decorated primarily with stickers, colored markers, and cutouts . But nonetheless every card made by those Marshall Elementary students was made especially for our Nation's Heroes.
This activity was an incredibly rewarding one for me. I love talking about the Red Cross, especially to children, and I love providing children with an opportunity to make a difference. Today I was able to do both, and I have no doubt that the students of Marshall Elementary enjoyed the art project and learned a little something about the Red Cross and its place in our community, not to mention the cool totes they all received from PG&E.

Although it's a little too late to send in a Holiday Card, you could still do your part and become a Red Cross volunteer for our Service to the Armed Forces Department or help distribute the 3,000 cards we have received this season. For more information, please contact Alex Villa at or call (559) 455-1000.