News: Christmas in October: Fayetteville youth craft Christmas cards for deployed service members
Story by Spc. Taryn Hagerman
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Quietly, children filed into the room which had been decked-out in Christmas decorations at Lake Rim Recreation Center, Oct. 23. All the children knew it was too early for Christmas decorations, but waited patiently for their guest to explain this jump-start on the holiday season.
Crystal Glover, youth development and cultural arts coordinator with Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation, introduced herself to the children and asked them about their favorite holidays—the winner, of course, was Christmas.
As the children became excited simply imagining Christmas, Glover reminded them that not everyone will celebrate with their families this year. This helped the children understand the goal of organizations like Soldiers’ Angels.
Soldiers’ Angels is a nonprofit organization committed to serving the nation’s heroes: United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, their families, and veterans. Soldiers’ Angels supports service members through care packages and hero “adoptions,” which are arranged through their website, soldiersangels.org.
Letters to Soldiers’ Angels, including one written by Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commanding officer at Fort Hood, Texas, express the gratitude service members experience upon receiving cards and other gifts.
“Not only were these gestures sincerely appreciated, but they rallied the morale of the Soldiers, often at the most necessary times,” said Chiarelli.
This year, Soldiers’ Angels set a goal of sending 60,000 holiday packages to deployed service members—a goal to which Glover wanted to contribute. She saw an opportunity to contribute to Soldiers’ Angels goal through creating a Christmas card making contest among the recreation centers.
Ten recreation centers in Cumberland County are competing to make the most Christmas cards for Soldiers’ Angels. The winning center will earn the youth development trophy to showcase at their center until the end of the year, said Glover.
Children at Lake Rim Recreation Center worked feverishly to create as many handmade cards as they could. Though hoping to make many, they spared no sincerity while cutting, gluing, coloring and writing personal messages in each card.
Dominique Vassar, 11, explained the importance of personalizing each card because it shows the recipient someone cares.
“If I got a card sent to me, I would treasure it,” Vassar said. “There could be some people who are overseas who don’t get cards.”
Some family members attended the event to help children make cards for heroes.
“It’s something small the kids can do, but I’m sure it makes them [service members] feel good to know people care about them,” said Christi Hartman, spouse of a former service member.
The contest aims to inspire friendly competition among the recreation centers through providing them with an opportunity to serve others.
“For many of them, this is their first volunteer opportunity,” Glover said. “This is the first project with a military focus [since Glover took this position five months ago], but I know that it will not be the last.”
As surely as these cards can boost morale for the recipients overseas, Glover says that the children can also benefit from making them.
“The children get to learn of the sacrifice others make for their freedom,” said Glover. “Hopefully it instills pride and helps them to take responsibility to live the best life possible.”
The youth at Lake Rim Recreation Center hand-crafted 106 Christmas cards during the two-hour event, and continued to add to their total until Oct. 29. Glover mailed the cards from all 10 recreation centers to Soldiers’ Angels, October 30.
This work, Christmas in October: Fayetteville youth craft Christmas cards for deployed service members, by SGT Taryn Hagerman, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.