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Holiday cards sought for local veterans, active military members

The Holidays for Heroes program delivers holiday cards to area veterans and active service members.

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University of Wisconsin-Superior sophomore Taylor Stanaway, from Andover, Minnesota, fills out a card at the Holiday Mail for Heroes table at the Yellowjacket Union on the UWS campus Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, 2021. The cards will be sent to local active military members or veterans. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The American Red Cross is collecting holiday cards for local veterans and active service members through the Holidays for Heroes campaign, formerly known as Holiday Mail for Heroes.

Community members are asked to write a holiday card for someone they may never meet. Beginning in early December, their words will be sent on to brighten the day of service members at drill and veterans at area nursing homes.

The Veterans and Nontraditional Students Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior set up a table full of cards in the Yellowjacket Union this week to give students the opportunity to give back.

“It’s just a good way for us to show our appreciation to the veterans in the Twin Ports that are making this country a safer place. You know, it lets them know that we support them and we want to be part of their lives and show our appreciation for them,” said center director Brendan Pilsbury.

The center has hosted a card table for the past four years as part of its veterans week celebration. Last year due to the pandemic, sports teams, students and staff sent virtual video snippets instead.

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RELATED: Hometown thanks: Superior student helps create holiday videos for veterans

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Taylor Stanaway, a sophomore from Andover, Minnesota, draws a present on the card she fills out at the Holidays for Heroes table at the Yellowjacket Union on the UW-Superior campus Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. The cards will be sent to local active military members or veterans. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

At its height in 2019, the American Red Cross serving Northern Minnesota distributed 15,000 cards to more than 4,000 service members and veterans. Executive director Dan Williams expects to distribute at least 9,000 cards to roughly 3,000 service members and veterans this year.

The 950th Engineering Company in Superior will get a delivery prior to its December drill date.

“We distribute to other units like the 148th (fighter wing) and Minnesota Army National Guard, but also to veterans at places like the Superior VA clinic and several nursing homes in Douglas County,” Williams said.

Each veteran or active service member receives two to six cards, with at least one “substantive” message.

“This is about sort of reminding people of their service to the country and that that’s appreciated by all of our communities. I think that from the feedback that we get from the veterans, it makes a big difference," Williams said.

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Pilsbury encouraged people to write stories and mention the fun things they do over the holidays. Williams said it's a great idea to mention the writer's connection to the military — family members who have served and so on.

"Make it personal without including, like, addresses or last names or anything," Pilsbury said.

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T Leeper, left, gender and sexuality programs coordinator at UW-Superior, watches as Taylor Stanaway, a sophomore from Andover, Minnesota, fills out a card at the Holidays for Heroes table at the Yellowjacket Union on the UW-Superior campus Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. The cards will be sent to local active military members or veterans. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Some of the most impactful cards come from high school and college students, according to Williams. Every year, 11th grade students at Superior High School write cards for the program. The Richard I. Bong American Legion 435 Auxiliary planned to drop off cards this week, as well.

RELATED: Cards, artwork connect students with service members

Red Cross card tables will be set up at various events throughout the Twin Ports, from hockey games to Bentleyville.

"If people see it, great, but it shouldn't be an excuse as to why they can't get involved," he said.

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Whether they pick up a 15-pack of holiday cards on Amazon, or grab a card while they're at the grocery store or make a homemade card with their child, people can spread holiday cheer to those who have served.

To participate, fill out a card, or a couple, and send it to the American Red Cross, 2524 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, MN, 55811.

Cards for active service members must be received by Dec. 4 to be distributed this holiday season. Cards for veterans must be received by Dec. 12.

The Red Cross card program stresses quality over quantity. Cards with personal connections to service members and veterans, messages that share what makes the writer proud to be an American and cards describing holiday activities are appreciated.

For more information on the program, email dan.williams@redcross.org .

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Cards for military personnel wait in a box at the Holiday Mail for Heroes table at the Yellowjacket Union on the UW-Superior campus Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, 2021. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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