South Florida Red Cross calls for support to spread cheer to military this holiday season

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WEST PALM BEACH — The South Florida Red Cross is calling on the community to help bring the holiday season to our nation’s heroes. Every year, the Red Cross launches its Holiday for Heroes campaign to spread holiday cheer and gratitude to military troops and veterans for their sacrifice and service to our country.

For more than a decade, the Red Cross has relied on the support and generosity of the community to donate items and write messages of thanks for holiday care packages that will be sent to troops overseas and veterans in local hospitals.

This year, due to COVID-19, the Red Cross is encouraging the community to purchase requested items through the Holiday for Heroes online gift registry, where items will be directly shipped to the Red Cross distribution team.

A list of the requested items appears below, or go online at redcross.org/HolidayforHeroes.
• Flavored drink mix for water bottles (individual packets)
• Hot cocoa mix (individual packets)
• Power bars, granola bars, breakfast bars
• Gum, mints, hard candy (no chocolate)
• Individually packaged/travel size snacks (nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, Slim Jims, cookies)
• Non-perishable meat (individual packets of tuna, chicken, salmon; not canned)
• Lip balm
• Small packs of wet wipes
• Individual tissue packets
• Travel-size hygiene items (body wash, lotion, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste)
• Small puzzle books, playing cards, yo-yos, hacky sacks
• Cards and letters of appreciation (please do not include your last name, address or personal contact information. Please use wording that will encompass the holiday spirit without reference to religion as these will go to a diverse group of service members and veterans).

The care package items will be placed in a holiday stocking that is personally cut and sewn by local Red Cross volunteers.

Red Cross teams along with lead partner Arthrex Inc. and other sponsors will assemble and deliver these stuffed holiday stockings to military members and local area veterans who are away from their families during the holidays.

“As someone who has been on the receiving end of a similar care package during a combat deployment, I can tell you, this may be the most appreciated gift you give this holiday season,” said Heidi O’Sheehan, Service to the Armed Forces director for the South Florida Red Cross. “When you visit the event home page, you will see some great photographs that show just how much these small gifts mean to our service members and veterans.”

Last year, more than 1,000 stockings were delivered to soldiers serving overseas and O’Sheehan received a letter from Becky LaPolice, the Regional Service to the Armed Forces manager in Poland, sharing her appreciation and gratitude for the care packages.

“We received your shipment of holiday stockings and we can’t thank you enough,” said LaPolice. “It really lifts the spirits of our deployed service members to receive these care packages and cards from home — especially the fact that people they don’t even know have taken the time and effort to remember them and show their support. We feel like a piece of home has been sent here to us. Please pass along our thanks to all of the volunteers and donors that help make this project happen.”

Purchases for the holiday care packages MUST be made by Friday, Oct. 30, from the Holiday for Heroes online gift registry. Please lend your support and show your appreciation to our nation’s heroes by visiting redcross.org/holidayforheroes.

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