Every year, people all over the world celebrate the spirit of the season with a Christmas tradition: sending Christmas cards to friends and family alike. Whether sending them to folks back home, or distributing them among neighbors, people find joy in the simple act of sending season's greetings to those they love. But this year, consider spreading cheer overseas by sending Christmas cards to soldiers stationed away from home. What better way to show our heroes abroad how much we appreciate their work and sacrifice than by sending them warm thoughts and affection in the form of a Christmas card this holiday season? Read on to learn how to send Christmas cards to soldiers through great US-based programs like the USASOA, A Million Thanks, Inc., America's Adopt A Soldier and Military Missions, Inc.
The United Soldiers and Sailors of America, known as the USASOA, is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 whose mission is to provide the essentials of life to veterans and service members, protect the interests of veteran-owned businesses, and promote veteran interests on Capitol Hill. The USASOA coordinates a program called Operation Christmas Cards For Our Troops. This program allows anyone who wishes to send cards to American service members to do so by submitting them by mail before December 1st. For security reasons, the USASOA requests that any cards submitted are in blank, unsealed envelopes, bundled within a larger envelope or box labeled with a name and return address. Send them to their headquarters at 700 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Suite 2104, Washington, DC 20003. From there, USASOA staff will mail the cards directly to troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and all across the globe. USASOA stresses that letters mailed to them individually will not be mailed out and any cards meant for the troops must be bundled together in unsealed envelopes.
A Million Thanks, Inc. is a national non-profit organization founded in 2004 with the goal of sending 1 million letters of appreciation to U.S. service members stationed overseas. After surpassing that goal in just 6 months, AMT has gone on to send over 7 million cards and letters to U.S. military personnel around the world since its foundation. AMT delivers letters to troops year round but they state that any holiday cards that are meant for troops should be postmarked to AMT on or before December 1st. Similar to the procedure for the USASOA, writers are expected to bundle blank, unsealed envelopes in a larger box or envelope properly affixed with a name and return address. Writers are encouraged to address their letters generically, with salutations like "Dear Hero", to limit topics to positive messages and encouraging words, and to include their address or email address in each letter in case a member would like to write back. Refrain from including food, or anything not securely attached to the card, like confetti or glitter. Like USASOA, AMT stresses that letters should not be mailed to them individually. You can mail them directly to AMT or visit one of their drop-off locations.
Another great non-profit, America's Adopt a Soldier, runs a year-round thank you card or letter program for deployed service members and veterans in VA hospitals and homes. While they don't provide any deadlines for submitting holiday cards and letters, it's recommended that you postmark your cards by December 1st to ensure delivery before the holidays. Letters and cards can be any type of paper or format, with or without envelopes or stamps, and writers can optionally bundle cards together in bulk. Letters should be addressed to America's Adopt A Soldier, P.O. Box 1049, Springfield, VA 22151. If you're interested in providing care package items to troops, America's Adopt A Soldier also runs a program called Challenge America, in which you can sponsor care packages for soldiers stationed overseas. These care packages contain a variety of items: toiletries, snacks, games, batteries, and clothing to name a few, and are packed at volunteer events every day around the U.S.
Military Missions, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to deliver care packages and thank you letters to U.S. soldiers deployed around the world. Each care package contains from ten to fifteen thank-you cards or letters, making them one of the most critical and in-demand pieces of the package. While cards are accepted all year-round (writers are encouraged not to date their letters as they'll be sent throughout the year), holiday cards and letters are also accepted in the months of October, November and December. Military Missions reminds writers not to include envelopes or stamps and offers some tips for what to include in thank-you letters: positive messages, informal talk about yourself, and recent events, though it's also suggested that writers avoid talking about politics or religion. It's also important that writers not use glitter, as it can cause problems for the soldier receiving it. Letters should be addressed and mailed to Military Missions Inc., 3650 Boston Rd., Suite 138, Lexington, KY 40514, or dropped off there in person. To learn more about Military Missions, Inc.'s program, check out their website.
Each of these programs operate in similar fashion and accept holiday cards and letters in a variety of formats. Looking for holiday card inspiration? Check out Minted's Holiday Planning Ideas for seasonal cards, stationery, and other holiday items. Have questions about how to write your letter? Keep reading for FAQ on sending cards to troops.
A: When writing your letter or card, it's important to keep your messaging positive. Our service members look forward to letters from civilians as an escape and a way to forget the stress of active duty, so it's important that any letters or cards addressed to them stay focused on upbeat, happy thoughts and ideas. Be sure to thank them for their service and remind them that it doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated. Remember not to talk about divisive topics like politics or religion, but feel free to remind them that they're in your prayers. For letter content, talk about yourself: tell them about things you like, what you do, or about where you live. Feel free to include a drawing or picture of yourself or something you'd like to show them. Talk about recent events and consider including a return address so you can ask them questions about themselves.
A: Remember to sign your card with your name in case any soldiers might want to reply. When offering a salutation, try using more generic greetings like "Dear Hero", "Dear Troop", "Dear Service Member", or something similar. Your cards will be going to all sorts of members of our military across different branches and services, so keep that in mind when you're writing content and bringing up topics. When addressing your cards, be sure to place all cards or letters into a single containing envelope or box and address the large container with the appropriate address as found in the paragraphs above or on the respective program's website. If you're submitting a lot of letters or cards, it's recommended that you bundle them together with rubber bands in bundles of cards of like sizes.
A: Generally speaking, you should restrict mailed items to letters and cards. Food, incidentals, and other perishable goods cannot be included in any mail sent to any of these programs. Do not include glitter, confetti, or anything that could create a mess or isn't securely fastened to your card or letter. Letters and cards of any format are acceptable, with the exception of store-bought cards without handwritten notes. That means you can include any type of holiday card, a letter written on stationery, or a drawing or illustration of some kind, so get creative! Minted’s unique personalized stationery designs can be customized with your name and photo, with plenty of room for a handwritten personal message.
A: You can't directly send care packages through any of these programs, but if you're interested in contributing to care packages, both Military Missions, Inc. and America's Adopt A Soldier run care package programs for deployed troops that accept monetary donations. If you're interested in contributing items to a care package, Military Missions, Inc. accepts gift, drink, snack, and personal care item donations to their mailing address at Military Missions Inc., 3650 Boston Rd., Suite 138, Lexington, KY 40514. Check their website for a full list of acceptable items can be found.