By Senior Airman Jessica Hines
31 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Stamped with the words "Handmade for you by the spouses at Aviano Air Base, Italy," a stack of custom-made Mother's Day cards were spread out on a table as deploying military members shuffled through the passenger terminal during a layover to Southwest Asia April 17 at Aviano.
The cards were designed by Aviano spouses, who joined together with Operation Yellow Ribbon, an organization that serves food and refreshments to transiting deployers, to organize and distribute handmade Mother's Day cards to service members that may not have the chance to send a card while downrange.
Both the Aviano Community of Enlisted Spouses and the Aviano Officers and Civilian Spouses Club provided materials and postage for 500 cards. Each card was handmade by spouses, who also donated materials and their time to make the cards.
For some service members, the cards were a special reminder of the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters they would be separated from during their deployment. With Mother's Day only weeks away, the unique cards offered a quick and easy way to express their sentiment to their loved ones.
"There's always a million and one things you're trying to remember when you deploy, so this is great. I appreciate it and I know the troops really appreciate it," said Army Lt. Col. Kevin Holt, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Holt sent a card to his wife, who together share nine children, and took an additional card to send to his mother when he arrives downrange.
Jen Walters, ACES representative, used her creative crafting abilities to make more than 50 cards for the event. As a mother herself, she sees the cards as more than just craft paper, glue and embellishments, but as an outreach of families across the military.
"These are made for moms, by moms," she said, "I hope [service members] understand how much we care and I hope their families like the cards as much as we enjoyed making them."
According to Kay Zobrist, AOCSC member, the idea was hatched last May by a delegation who attended the Americans Working Around the Globe volunteer leadership conference in Germany.
Army Spc. Tyler Stark, Fort Bragg, N.C., sent two cards, one for his mom and another for his wife. Heading to his first deployment, Stark hopes the cards will be a nice surprise for the, "special ladies in his life," including his one-year-old daughter.
"I can only image what they'll think when they see the Italian address on it," said Stark. "They're going to think it's awesome and definitely won't expect it.
Volunteers will be at the La Dolce Vita dining facility in Area F and the Buon Appetito dining facility in Area 2 on April 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with additional handmade Mother's Day cards for anyone interested in sending cards back home.