WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Active US service members and veterans will be receiving homemade stockings filled with sweet and savory treats and handwritten holiday cards thanks to the Red Cross' Holiday Care Package initiative.
Steve Bayer has volunteered at the American Red Cross for the last 25 years and is a US Air Force veteran who often transported wounded service members.
“Seeing the Red Cross always made my passengers, my veterans, that were on a plane happy to see the Red Cross calm because they knew they were gonna’ get cookies and coffee and everything else,” Bayer said. “They made them feel like home. And that was very important to a lot of the GIs that were on the airplane,” said Bayer.
Eric Roby who is the executive director for the American Red Cross’ Palm Beach and Treasure Coast chapter said that getting meaningful cards and snacks are still valued today.
“You know, the Red Cross has been helping our military since the Civil War for 140 years. This is what we do… …We look after our military members while they're serving and then also afterwards, so that red cross symbol, it's a sign of home, it's a sign of support. It's a sign of love, love that,” Roby said. “Any service member that is deployed or even here at home maybe at a VA hospital, that they know that we're thinking about them. We're caring for them. We're giving them some love for the holidays. Everyone needs a little bit of support, and this is our way to give back to those that have given us so much,” continued Roby.
“The care packages brought the troops back out of where they had been in the bad times. It brought them up to date where it was really back home, even though they weren't home. So it was a connection to mom and dad and brother and sister who are at home. So they could relate to the people that were there,” said Bayer.
The public can donate items via the Red Cross’ Amazon wish list through Nov.1.
From the American Red Cross
The Holiday Care Package initiative provides handmade holiday stockings filled with goodies mailed to deployment sites overseas and delivered locally to veterans hospitalized or in nursing homes during the holidays. Arthrex, Inc., a long-time Holiday for Heroes supporter, facilitates delivery overseas to military installations for active-duty military members away from their families during the holiday season.
You can participate by donating some of the following items:
- Lip balm
- Hot cocoa mix (individual packets)
- Gum, mints, hard candy (no chocolate)
- Power bars, granola bars, breakfast bars
- Flavored drink mix for water bottles (individual packets)
- Non-perishable meat (individual packets of tuna, chicken, salmon; not canned)
- Individually packaged/travel size snacks (nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, Slim Jim, cookies)
- Holiday cards and letters of appreciation (Please do not write 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.)
CLICK HERE to purchase items from the Holiday for Heroes online registry, including direct shipping to the Red Cross. Please select the auto-populated American Red Cross option during the checkout process as your shipping address.
Drop-off locations coming soon!
DEADLINE TO PURCHASE ITEMS IS Tuesday, November 1, 2022.