Holiday Mail for Heroes launches

CENTER CITY - November 19, 2009

The Red Cross launched its "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program at the Bellevue Food Court in Center City around lunchtime.

"They leave their families, especially during holidays, go across the world, and really serve others," Kristen Riccardi of Bryn Mawr, Pa. said.

"This is a way to just say thank you. It's quick. It's easy. It takes a few seconds," Grace Ecclestone of Fishtown said.

"Society and the media like to think that us Americans just send troops overseas and we don't care about them, but that's not true," Red Cross volunteer Evon Burton said.

In less than an hour, some 200 people had offered their greetings and thanks to our military.

"It really tells you something about our country and people in our city. Just about everybody who comes down these steps has stepped over there and written out a card to thank our veterans for their service" Red Cross CEO Tom Foley said.

From here the cards will be screened by Pitney Bowes. The Red Cross will then sort and distribute some 2,000 of them to local troops and veterans.

Janice Winston became a Red Cross volunteer 18 years ago, when it helped her get the urgent word to her Marine Corp son that his granddad had died:

"The thing that impressed me the most was the way I was treated by the volunteers on the phone from the Red Cross. The sympathy and the compassion he had, I never forgot that kindness," Winston said.

The Red Cross mascot, Fred Cross, did his part today encouraging everyone to participate and showing them lots of love when they obliged.

"Whenever I write a message to anybody, I try to use a quote from the Bible and love one another is my favorite," Ed O'Donnell of Ocean City, New Jersey, said.

The Holiday Mail for Heroes is a national program. Last year, it distributed nearly a million and a half holiday greetings and well-wishes to vets at home and troops abroad.

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