2012 Holiday Card Drive begins
Posted: October 13, 2012
The Winchester Star
Winchester — The holiday season may be weeks away, but preparations are already under way to make sure they are special for military members serving overseas.
The 2012 Holiday Card Drive will collect cards and care package items through Nov. 20 to be sent to local troops, said coordinator Lynn Jones of Keedysville, Md. The cards will then be sent to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Kuwait and Kenya.
The drive covers a four-state area (Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and PennsylvaniaC, but cards are welcome from anyone who wants to show that “America hasn’t forgotten their soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen” Jones said.
“It is nice to know that people remember you, especially when you are serving on behalf of all of us,” said Jones, leader of the South Washington County Military Support Group, which runs the drive.
When the support group started in March 2003, members heard from loved ones serving overseas that several people received nothing from home — “no mail, no boxes, no letters, no cards, no nothing.”
Especially around the holiday season, that wasn’t acceptable to Jones, so she started the card drive.
“To be in a war zone and be in combat and not have anybody at home acknowledge you are over there, was really heartbreaking to us,” said Jones, whose son and daughter were deployed to the Middle East multiple times with the 82nd Airborne.
That first year, the group sent 12,000 holiday cards overseas.
In 2011, the group sent 116,238 cards, Jones said. In total, members collected and sent 584 boxes of cards and supplies to 98 military units.
The cards cannot be sent in envelopes, and postage isn’t necessary, she said. All cards and messages should be appropriate, and all will be screened for security and sensitivity issues. They may include messages of well wishes and support and pen pal requests if the writer is 18 or older.
Care package items can include travel-size personal hygiene products, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, hand wipes, shampoo, body wash, aspirin products, over-the-counter flu and cold tablets, lip balm and sunscreen. Other useful items: puzzle books, playing cards, small squirt guns, disposable cameras and batteries — AA, AAA and D.
For food, popular items are individually wrapped candy and lollipops, drink mixes for water bottles, granola bars, beef jerky, ramen noodles, and cookies and snacks.
A contact person whose address is submitted to the group will receive two boxes each of cards, hygiene items and candy and snacks, which they are then asked to distribute to the men and women they are serving with, Jones said.
Cards and additional items can be sent to the group or dropped off at Jones’s home at 12 S. Main St. in Keedysville — six miles from Shepherdstown, W.Va., she said.
The group encourages schools and churches to become involved, and volunteers are welcome to help sort and pack items in boxes. This year, items will be sorted Nov. 24 and packed Nov. 25.
Potential volunteers may call Jones at 301-432-4979 to volunteer and learn the event locations.
The organization has a continuing need for people who can provide the names of service members to receive the boxes, Jones said.
Financial donations also are appreciated. The 2011 mailing cost was $7,107.19.
“Money is tight for a lot of people and people don’t have jobs, but we do our best, and so far we have been blessed to make it every year,” she said.
Cards and items may be sent to South Washington County Military Support Group, c/o Lynn Jones, P.O. Box 223, Keedysville, Md. 21756. She can be reached at 301-432-4979 or email@example.com. The group’s website is swcmsg.org.
Also, the local Spurmont Chapter 64 of the Order of the Eastern Star sends shipments of supplies tosoldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, who distribute the supplies to their units. Contact Lou Ann Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org for a pickup or call 540-974-3071.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com