By Robin Brown
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., wants you to send holiday cards.
Not to him. To the troops.
He joined members of Congress, their staff and volunteers who paused recently from government business to sign holiday cards for U.S. troops around the world through the nonprofit American Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes Program.
Carper, a retired U.S. Navy captain, is asking Delawareans to support the effort to remember troops through the holidays.
You can see his personal pitch for the cause on his latest "Carper's Corner" video blog post.
"As a former naval flight officer who served three tours in Southeast Asia, I know how hard it can be to spend months -- in some cases years -- away from home," he said in his blog.
"I remember how exciting it was to get mail from my family," he said, "and now I'm sure our service members eagerly check Facebook and email for word from their loved ones."
But he said "nothing means more than receiving a letter saying thanks or a package of gifts around this time of year, so let's continue the tradition of sending packages and letters in support of our men and women in uniform this holiday season."
Those serving in far reaches of the world may have difficulty feeling "at home" for the holidays, he said, "but we can help bring a little bit of home to them."
The project last year distributed more than 1 million cards.
"Of the 2 million service members, tens of thousands will find themselves away from home during this holiday season, and others are close to home but desperately need an emotional and spiritual boost," Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.
"We are proud of the service members and families we have touched over the years and the many more we will reach this year," she said. The program has collected and distributed more than 3.5 million cards since 2007, she said.
This year, they will be accepted through Dec. 9.
Pitney Bowes also created an online feature to let people send a card and personal message for $1 at www.mailforheroes.com.
Although the temptation may be great, the Red Cross asks supporters to "refrain" from sending money, gifts, food or any card enclosures through the program.
For more information or card requirements, see www.redcross.org/holidaymail.
Cards may be sent to Holiday Mail for Heroes, Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.