DETROIT (WWJ) – Hundreds of thousands of cards are making their way to U.S. service members, veterans and their loved ones worldwide through Holiday Mail for Heroes from the American Red Cross.

Sponsored by Pitney Bowes, the program aims to give members of the Armed Forces a “touch of home” this holiday season. Over a million cards were collected this year, bringing the total to about 4.5 million cards over the past five years.

The Red Cross collected holiday cards throughout the past several weeks for distribution on military bases and hospitals, veterans’ hospitals and other locations in the U.S. and abroad during the holidays. Pitney Bowes donated all screening, packaging and shipping.

This year’s cards included cards done by school children, senior citizens, churches, scout troops, businesses college sororities, members of Congress and other elected officials, television anchors, and a wide range of other people. Many cards were hand-made or hand-painted, others were distributed for signing by companies, and the cards even included at least one in Braille.

The mailbox for the 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes program is now closed, but Americans wanting to help military members, veterans and their families can visit the Red Cross holiday giving catalog and click on “Help Our Troops.” The online catalog offers symbolic donations to help provide members of the Armed Forces with phone cards and comfort kits as well as assist homeless veterans, among many other options.

Find more information at


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