Members of the U.S. Senate got into the holiday spirit on Capitol Hill and signed cards for members of the military as part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Twenty-three Senators attended the Holiday Mail event, including Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) who serves as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who is co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus which sponsored the card-signing event.
Red Cross President and Chief Executive Officer Gail McGovern and Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) shared sentiments from family members who had received the hand-written Holiday Mail greetings while serving in Iraq.
“The holiday card program we do each and every year is so important. It’s such a wonderful way to harness the generosity of so many Americans who care so deeply for our troops,” said McGovern. “I have a stepson who did two tours of duty in Iraq and he still has the cards that he received on his first time away from family. He cherishes them and said when he received the cards they really made him feel better, feel a little bit of home.”
Senator Bond, whose son is currently serving in Afghanistan, said it is important to let our service men and women know that “we pray for them every night, that they’re in our thoughts and prayers. It’s not just the people that are in the battle, but it’s also their loved ones at home.”
Senator Grassley noted that during the holiday season it’s important that our military people “know firsthand that we appreciate their defense of our freedom, that we’re thinking about them and praying for them.”
“This is very important to me. It gives me a chance to express my ‘Aloha’ and my love for our troops,” said Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI).
“Especially in the era of emails, to open up something like this, I just think it makes that important connection,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “You’re defending our country. We love you for it, we thank you for it, and we want you to come home safely.”
Last week members of the House of Representatives and their staff, lobbyists, Capitol police and others signed their cards for Holiday Mail for Heroes. The cards Senators signed today and those signed last week during the House of Representatives event will be among the first to be sent to military bases overseas.
The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is led by the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc., providing Americans with the opportunity to extend holiday greetings, expressions of gratitude and well wishes to service members, veterans and their families worldwide. Now in its fourth year, more than three million cards have been distributed during the first three years of the campaign.
Any member of the general public can be part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program and send greeting cards from now until December 10 to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. The cards will be distributed to members of the United States Armed Forces and veterans during the 2010 holiday season.
Holiday Mail for Heroes began in December 2007, when Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. approached the American Red Cross to assist in distributing thousands of holiday cards to hospitalized servicemen and women. In response to this request, the Red Cross partnered with Pitney Bowes to turn the project into a larger opportunity that could reach members of the military at other medical facilities in this country and abroad.
The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are encouraging families, schools, youth, civic groups, scouting troops, places of worship, and other groups that are interested in participating in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program to organize and host card-making events. For a list of tips and ideas, please visit: www.redcross.org/holidaymail
Pitney Bowes receives cards and messages at the special Holiday Mail post office box, and screens all items for hazardous materials. Red Cross volunteers across the United States then sort and deliver the cards throughout the holiday season. Pitney Bowes screens, packages and ships the cards at no charge, and contributes thousands of volunteer hours at sites around the country.
For reasons of processing and safety, participants are asked to refrain from sending “care packages,” monetary gifts, using glitter or including any inserts with the cards. For more information and card requirements, please visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail
Additional ways to become involved with the campaign include connecting with fellow card senders through Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcross and Twitter at www.twitter.com/redcross using the hashtag #HMFH.
About Pitney Bowes:
Celebrating its 90th year of innovation, Pitney Bowes provides software, hardware and services that integrate physical and digital communications channels. Long known for making its customers more productive, Pitney Bowes is increasingly helping other companies grow their business. Pitney Bowes is a $5.6 billion company and employs 33,000 worldwide. Pitney Bowes: Every connection is a new opportunity™. www.pb.com
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.