When we think of time traveling, especially as genealogists, we tend to think of traveling back in time, to the past. This was discussed in a post a couple of weeks ago, “Where- and When- Will Your Family History Research Take You?” at http://heritageramblings.net/2013/12/10/time-travel-tu…earch-take-you/
Of course, there are also those who look to the future- space travel and life on distant planets intrigues them. Making memories today for those to have in the future is an important part of life, too. As we have children and grandchildren, even great-grandchildren if we are lucky to be here with them, we think about making the time count more and more.
Have you ever thought about making memories for others you don’t even know? How about providing them with the means to have memories that will be cherished throughout their future, and a way they can time travel to the early 21st century when they are old and living in a space station revolving around the Earth? The way that I love to do this is by making handmade greeting cards that get sent to our troops overseas. Since there are no Hallmark stores in the mountains of Afghanistan and other remote places our troops serve, these handmade cards are for many occasions- birthday, anniversary, thinking of you, thanks, Christmas, etc. The cards are decorated on the front and are blank or have a sentiment inside, so that our troops can write home to their families on special occasions- or just any day of the week that ends in “y.” 😀 It is a great way for families to keep in touch, but more importantly, a way for them to keep those memories throughout the years- something that cannot easily be done with our electronic communications today. Deployed troops and their family members have written notes to the various organizations and said how much they treasure a love letter from a spouse in these cards, and how fun it is to send a Halloween, Way to Go, Birthday, etc. card to their children back home. (Click the links below to read heartfelt thank yous from our troops.)
There are a number of groups that collect cards from cardmakers, package them up in boxes with no duplicates and for a variety of occasions, and then send cases overseas to military units around the globe. The cards can be found by our troops in Chaplain’s offices, chow halls, etc.- anyplace they can gather and write a note. One Chaplain even carried them in the many pockets of his fatigues, to hand out to servicemembers he met out in the field. Our troops are able to mail the cards home for free- no stamps needed. Some units even use the cards to give to those deployed on their birthdays!
Probably the biggest group that sends cards to our troops is Operation Write Home (OWH). They have sent over 2.5 million cards since 2007. They also send “AnyHero Mail”- these are cards made or purchased, a note, or even a coloring page by kids, with a ‘thank you’ note written in by folks here at home. “AnyHero Mail” goes to any service member- they are given out to troops who may not receive much mail, or those who need a lift, or just someone passing by who would appreciate a note of thanks for their hard, dangerous, work. “AnyHero Mail” is a great project for schools, companies, church groups, and Scouts. (Our BSA troop really enjoyed it, and some of the boys really got into writing a note to a service member thanking him or her for such unselfish service.)
My favorite group, though, is smaller but still sends a lot of boxes of cards to our military: From Our Hearts in Jefferson City, Missouri. They had sent 380,000 cards overseas by Nov. 4, 2013. They also collect supplies and have a big ‘garage sale’ for crafters, with the proceeds going to pay for mailing supplies, postage, etc.
Please make sure that if you choose to make cards, that you follow the guidelines for each group- it is very important to not use glitter on any mail sent to our troops, because if it gets on their uniforms, the enemy may be able to see them at night. Additionally, strong adhesives are needed because of the heat in the desert, deadlines must be followed to allow time for the cards to get to the troops and then mailed home before a holiday, no parts of commercial cards may be used, etc.
If you don’t want to make cards but want to help make memories, any of these groups would be very grateful for donations, even very small ones- you know how much postal rates and supplies have increased!
Please visit one of the links below, or find a local group that makes cards to send to our troops. Being old enough to remember the horrible way our Vietnam Veterans were treated when they returned to the US, I am so happy to be a part of something that helps to honor our troops and their families, and the sacrifices they all make to protect our precious freedoms and those of people around the world. It is wonderful to be able to time travel into the future, knowing that a card I made with love was sent with love by a service member to family or friend. That card may be stashed in a box of treasured items that will always be held close to heart, for many years, and many generations, to come.
Notes, Sources, and References:
1) Operation Write Home: http://operationwritehome.org
2) From Our Hearts: http://www.fromourhearts.info
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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.