Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Cards for Recovering Veterans

The short: the Red Cross is collecting holiday cards for veterans recovering in American hospitals. It's to participate, will take one minute of your day, and could seriously touch someone who needs it. Click here for every bit of information you need to send a card.

If that's all you need, then awesome. But we're going to run a little long because we should discuss this. Firstly, in the last two weeks a false message has been circulating through social networks, particularly Facebook, asking people to send holiday cards to soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, where so many wounded veterans recover. It appealed to a spirit of charity and compassion. It was very nice except that it was a hoax; Walter Reed doesn't have staff to handle that kind of mail, has no such program, and the address was likely posted by a troll trying to annoy them using your kindness to do it. It's despicable.

However, the American Red Cross is running a program like that. Somehow the Walter Reed drive gained more attention than the Red Cross one, but organizations like Snopes have crossed the two stories so that anyone moved by the hoax can still do something kind. It's my favorite thing I've ever experienced through Snopes, and they'd had some amazing hits over the years.

The Red Cross has very few rules about this drive, and they all seem quite sensible to me.

  • Ensure that all cards are signed.
  • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
  • Only cards are being accepted. Do not send or include letters.
  • Do not include email or home addresses on the cards: the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
  • Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos: these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
  • Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
  • If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.
  • All mail must be postmarked by December 7th.

They're pretty much asking you to keep it short. You can be any religion or irreligion, and say almost anything. You can send your cards here:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

So you've got a week to write two sentences to someone who was injured serving our country. That seems reasonable to me. I'm not a card-giver or letter-writer. I have a nerve imbalance in my hands that makes it excruciatingly painful; keyboards and e-mail were godsends to me. But today, once I finish my allotment of edits on Last House in the Sky, I'm going to fill out some greeting cards.

If you want, take a photo of your card, or even you holding your card. If I get a few, I'll find someone with a working camera around here and post one of myself and my own awful handwriting. We could do a meta-post of them next weekend.

The Red Cross website has details and videos about the campaign. In case anyone wants to make this real campaign viral, here's a tidy image to post wherever you please:


  1. Nice gesture. One of our local charities has sent out it's Christmas appeal for money - but also included a blank card which they would like filled out and returned so that they can give a personal card to the (so many) lonely people they help over the Christmas period. My fine motor control is shot, and my handwriting is now vile, but I took the time to complete this request.

  2. Not only is this a great and kind gesture, but it is a way to use up those boxes of cards you get every year thinking you've got so many people to correspond with, and then being left with the leftovers. I see what I've got and send some their way.


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