There’s been quite a bit of talk on this here blog about the Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign (click here and here for recent posts), but in case you’re just now hearing about it for the first time, I encourage you to read on. En route to providing you with the information you’ll need to participate, should you feel so inclined, I’d like to share with you my 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes experience.
For the fifth time, the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have partnered together to provide Americans with an opportunity to send holiday cards to United States service members, veterans, and their families. Anyone is welcome to participate, which is why I approached my son’s preschool teacher about organizing a Holiday Mail for Heroes activity for his class.
Ms. Nancy was more than willing, so I began gathering materials and practicing – on Will, my five-year-old son – how I would introduce the program to the kids. I knew I didn’t want them to start making cards without understanding who the cards were for, so I kicked off our morning by talking to these 13 four- and five-year-olds about the mission and the work of the Red Cross.
My questions, “Have any of you heard of the American Red Cross?”, “What does the American Red Cross do?”, and “How does the American Red Cross help people?” prompted quite a few interesting answers, comments, and stories about things that are red, various kinds of crosses, thunder and lightening storms, and stopping/dropping/rolling. After the fifth or sixth “One time, when I was three, I heard thunder outside my window” story (think “One time, at band camp…”), I was able to bring the kids back around to why I was there, and we moved on to discussing the support the American Red Cross provides to the United States Military.
I could see on these children’s faces that the idea of someone – anyone – not getting to spend the holidays with their family was foreign. A couple of children, whose parents aren’t even members of the Armed Forces, actually asked me if their dads would have to go away for Christmas this year.
When I felt the kids understood why and for whom they would be making these cards, I set them free to create.
Four- and five-year-olds are not particularly skilled at writing, so while they all “signed” their names (or something loosely resembling their names), their cards were decorated primarily with stickers, colored markers, and cutouts Ms. Nancy and Ms. Fran prepared ahead of time.
I think they’re beautiful.
That evening, I let my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Hallie make a card as well. She DOES NOT like to be left out of anything, especially art projects.
The next day, Will, Hallie, and I packaged the letters and dropped them off at the post office.
This activity was an incredibly rewarding one for me. I love talking about the Red Cross, especially to children, and I love providing children with an opportunity to make a difference. Today I was able to do both, and I have no doubt Will and the 12 other preschoolers in his class both enjoyed the art project and learned a little something about the Red Cross and its place in our community.
There’s still time for you, your friends, your kids, and/or your kids’ classes to participate in the 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Simply create your cards, place them in an envelope or box (no individual envelopes are needed – just place all of your cards in one large envelope or mailing box), and send them to the address below. All packages must be postmarked no later than December 9th.