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?
There are many programs that you can participate in if you’re interested in sending cards to U.S military troops and soldiers. To ensure that your cards make it in time for the holidays, be sure to send them by October or November, since many of the deadlines for these programs end by December 1, 2020. In case you miss the holidays, don’t fret, many of these programs accept cards and letters throughout the year. Read on to learn about 7 options in 2020 for sending Christmas cards to soldiers through great US-based programs like the USASOA, A Million Thanks Inc., America's Adopt A Soldier, Military Missions Inc., and many more!
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.
Beginning in early September 2020, Operation Christmas Cards For Our Troops allows anyone who wishes to send cards to American service members to do so by submitting them by mail before December 1st. A special P.O. box address to send cards will be shared on September 1, 2020 for those who are interested in participating. For security reasons, the USASOA requests that all cards are submitted in blank, unsealed envelopes, bundled within a larger envelope or box labeled with a name and return address. Cards can range from store bought greeting cards with a handwritten positive message to handmade cards with holiday cheer for the soldiers. From there, USASOA staff and volunteers will then sort the cards and send them around the world to our deployed troops so that they reach them by Christmas day. The 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.
Iconic Merry designed by Susan Brown
A Million Thanks, Inc. (AMT) 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 9 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" or “Dear Troops”, 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. Get creative and include drawings or photos, but 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 to thank deployed service members and veterans in VA hospitals and homes for their service and sacrifices. 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.
Triangle Thank You designed by melanie Mikecz
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: words of encouragement, positive messages, informal talk about yourself, and recent events. It is 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.
The American National Red Cross is an organization whose mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering during emergencies by providing volunteer emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education. The American Red Cross is offering a new program this year called Holidays for Heroes, which has replaced Holiday Mail for Heroes. This new program allows local Red Cross offices to better thank the service members and veterans in our communities in a variety of ways that may include, but is not limited, to sending mail. There is no longer a national P.O. box to send cards, but you are encouraged to contact your local Red Cross office for more details and information regarding where to send your kind holiday greetings.
Eucalyptus Tale designed by Chris Griffith
For the social media enthusiast, there is a Facebook Group called Operation Christmas Cards For Troops Overseas that will coordinate with you to send cards directly to troops overseas. Unlike the other programs, this one allows you to include non-perishable goodies such as books, hot chocolate, ramen noodles, chapstick, hot sauce, shampoo, or conditioner. Writers can send as many cards as they wish beginning on November 1st through December 4th, but they must notify organizers on the exact number of cards they wish to send. To participate, writers must send a private message through Facebook to the organizers of this page. You will then receive an assigned address overseas to mail your package or cards to. The organization strongly suggests that all cards and goodies be shipped through USPS since other couriers may require a phone number or email address, which the organization will not give out.
Operation Gratitude is another organization that sends care packages to troops, new recruits, veterans, wounded heroes, and even their caregivers to show appreciation for those that have or are currently serving our nation. Each care package includes a bundle of letters and cards that care package recipients have said are their most cherished items in the box. This organization accepts letters year round, but if you want your correspondence to arrive in time for Christmas, plan to have your cards in the mail by October. Operation Gratitude encourages you to compose cards to new recruits, veterans, first responders, and wounded heroes and their caregivers. For cards, include a festive holiday greeting, a fun drawing, a little about yourself, or words of encouragement. Once all the cards are written, they can be sent to:
ATTN: Letter Writing Program
9409 Owensmouth Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Each of these programs operate in similar fashion and accept holiday cards and letters in a variety of formats. If you’re looking for holiday card inspiration, you may want to look through our collection of unique Christmas card and holiday card designs created by independent artists. Have questions about how to write your letter? Start with our roundup of 95 Christmas greetings or continue reading for answers to FAQ on sending cards to troops.
Thank You Flourish designed by Amy Payne
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.