Story by Jon Breems
Each holiday season the American Red Cross puts on the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign to send encouraging and uplifting cards and letters to members (past and present) of the armed services and their families. It’s estimated that this year as many as 2 million cards were handed out. For West Michigan, the campaign culminated last month with a card sorting and distribution event hosted at the Red Cross of Grand Rapids. On December 13, community members, Red Cross volunteers, and Red Cross employees took time to read through and sort the thousands of cards being sent to members of the military and their families. Among those who volunteered to help at the event were the AmeriCorps members from the Goodwill of Grand Rapids. Over twenty members from the nonprofit, along with volunteers and staff from the Red Cross, spent several hours that morning categorizing and organizing the cards.
“The event was an amazing success. We sorted nearly 11,000 cards for Veterans, service members, and their families. It was great to see so many people from the community offering messages of hope and encouragement to those receiving the cards”, said Meghan North, coordinator of the event. After the cards had been sorted, volunteers began delivering the cards around Grand Rapids to local VA clinics, Home for Veterans, and Armories. Through the month of December cards were distributed all across west Michigan carrying messages of thanks and good wishes. It may have taken only a day to sort and deliver these cards, but the messages they carried will certainly last much longer.