Central Ohio residents can share the Christmas spirit with members of the U.S. Armed Forces through the seventh annual Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign of the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross asks people to send cards a designated post office box for review and sorting, but is also staging two opportunities for people to sign Christmas cards on site that will be collected and distributed to America's military personnel.
Representatives of the Delaware County American Red Cross will be at the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Ohio Statehouse, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, and at the "First Friday" event on Sandusky Street in historic downtown Delaware, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6.
People can visit American Red Cross stations at both events to write cards.
"These cards will be sent to our active veterans (domestically and overseas)," said Sheila Thomas, manager of the Delaware County American Red Cross.
Thomas suggested that schools, churches, civic organizations, and other groups can write cards and mail them in bulk to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, Md., 20791-5456.
Letters must be postmarked no later than Dec. 6 to ensure a timely delivery.
Additional time is also required for the screening of cards, Thomas said.
The American Red Cross provides these guidelines for writing cards:
•Use generic titles such as "Dear service member."
•Only send cards. Letters will not be forwarded.
•Do not include email or home addresses, but do sign the cards.
•Do not include inserts of any nature, including photographs.
•Do not use cards containing glitter.
Holiday Mail for Heroes is part of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program. Last year, almost 2 million cards were distributed to military personnel via the program. For further information about the program, visit redcross.org/holidaymail.