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Sending spirit overseas

The holiday season is filled with time-honored traditions like family gatherings, the sharing of gifts and memories that will last a lifetime, but American soldiers serving overseas may not get a chance to join in those traditions with their families.

First grade students in Heather Newman’s class at Red Level School recently took time to create several cards for troops overseas that may not be home for Christmas. The project, done in conjunction with Red Level’s chapter of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), will help support the America Red Cross’s “Holiday Mail for Heroes” campaign to deliver one million cards to service members and families.

“I am actually taking them by the office for the Covington County chapter of the American Red Cross tonight,” Newman said Tuesday afternoon.

Newman said the children in her class understood the purpose of the cards they created because of a previous patriotic project.

“We talked about the reason for the cards and how they would be sent to troops who may not be able to come home to see their families during Christmas,” she said. “We also did some stuff for Veteran’s Day that included writing letters to veterans, but we did not send them to any veterans. We made sure the children understood the cards would be sent to troops who are serving our country right now.”

Newman said the messages written on the outside and the inside of the cards were generally the same.

“Most of them wrote ‘Merry Christmas’ and some of them wrote ‘wishing you a merry Christmas,’” she said. “I put some words on the projector and let them use some of the words to make a Christmas message for the card.”

The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc. are teaming up to send holiday cards to servicemen and women in the U.S. and around the world. From Tues., Nov. 11, until Wed., Dec. 10, the public is invited to send holiday cards with their message of thanks and cheer to a special post office box.

The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes will then screen cards for hazardous materials, sort and package the cards, and deliver them to military bases and hospitals, veteran’s hospitals, and other locations during the holidays.

Holiday cards should be addressed and sent to Holiday Mail For Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD, 20791-5456.

Be sure to affix adequate postage. Cards must be received no later than Dec. 10. Cards received after this date will be returned to senders. To help speed the sorting process and delivery of cards and notes before the holidays, mailers are encouraged to refrain from sending “care packages,” monetary gifts, use glitter or include any other inserts. For a full list of recommended guidelines and best practices, visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail.

Cards are also available to print out from the Web site, along with messages from Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet Members Dr. Phil McGraw and Nancy O’Dell, co-anchor of Access Hollywood.