Holiday cards for the troops
What: Kids can make a holiday card for military members
When: Hours for the Hall County Library System branches are available online.
Where: All branches of the library system
More info: Visit the Red Cross website
If you can't attend: Send cards, postmarked by Friday, to Holiday Mail for Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.
Last year, one Gainesville family had a simple gift for an American soldier. On a piece of construction paper, they traced their newborn's tiny palms and wrote below them, "Hands reaching out to you and wishing you peace."
That card and more than 300 others were sent to troops serving abroad last Christmas as part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program at the Hall County Library System.
Through Wednesday, children can again drop into any library branch to take part in the program.
"Our hope is that kids and families will come in together and show their appreciation for people who may not be able to go home for Christmas this year and who are fighting to keep our freedom alive," said Adrianne Junius, the library's youth services director.
The library will provide the paper, stickers, glitter and markers.
All cards must be made at a library location, and because the library can only send a limited number of cards, only one is allowed per child, Junius said.
But families are always invited to send in more on their own, said Christi Harlan, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.
Nationally, more than 3 million cards have been drawn since the Red Cross program's inception three years ago.
They range from delicately hand-painted pictures to crayon-scrawled messages, but all of them will make their way to troops abroad before Christmas.
At the Yokota Air Base in Japan, cards received last year are still tacked to bulletin boards, Harlan said.
"I've personally talked to military veterans here on Veterans Day from all previous conflicts and ... they said receiving a hand-written message, from a stranger or not, was one of the best memories of their service," she said.
Card-decorating stations will be set up at all library branches today through Wednesday, and the cards will be sent to the Red Cross on Thursday.
Individuals sending cards on their own have until Friday to postmark their packages.
"Thank you for your service," Harlan said. "That's what we're encouraging people to say most."