Merry Christmas: Cards give cheer, thanks to sailors

Key Club presdident and Oak Harbor High School senior Mariah Ferguson reads a card for a solider while voluntering for the Red Cross. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Key Club presdident and Oak Harbor High School senior Mariah Ferguson reads a card for a solider while voluntering for the Red Cross.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

On Monday, about 4,000 Christmas cards from around the country arrived in Oak Harbor filled with messages of cheer and thankfulness for the military men and women based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

The cards came in as part of the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Program. Each year the organization asks members of the public to send cards to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and from there the cards are sent to the nonprofit’s chapters located near military bases.

This year, the Red Cross, in partnership with Pitney Bowes, collected hundreds of thousands of cards. In the last three years, more than 3 million have been distributed around the country and to those deployed overseas.

By Tuesday afternoon, Red Cross volunteers along with a group of Oak Harbor High School students had gathered to sort through the cards and ready them for local delivery. The kids made sure the messages were appropriate and separated them into categories including messages for religious people or for wounded soldiers.

Nina Barron, who’s in charge of relations with the Armed Services for Red Cross, said she’s grateful that the high schoolers were up to the task.

“These kids are on break and don’t have to be here,” she said. “It’s obviously a big project to handle during the holidays.”

Barron has been with the Oak Harbor chapter for 10 months and said she was excited to get to be a part of the program this year.

“This is definitely a fun project,” OHHS senior Jayme Hunt said. “We didn’t even find out about it until Friday.”

Hunt was sorting through cards along with her fellow officers of the high school’s National Honor Society.

Many of the students at the sorting expressed their dedication to community service and said they enjoyed spending their days off giving back.

“That’s why we’re in these clubs and why we do these things,” Key Club president and senior Mariah Ferguson said. “When people need help, we’re the super heroes who come running.”

The cards were delivered to base leaders on Wednesday. Many were hand-drawn by children, some were splashed with glitter and others held inspirational words filled with hope and admiration.

One boy captured the spirit of the program well when he anonymously wrote,”Thank you for serving your country, and thank you for serving me.”

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