It was Mr. Ben Arp’s speech at the Fannin County High School’s Veteran’s Day program that triggered an idea for someone in the audience. “Never underestimate the power of a note or a card to a soldier, especially during this time of year” he said. With those words, a few citizens in Fannin County felt they should do their civic duty and round up cards to send to the Red Cross for their Holiday Mail for Heroes project. Each year, the American Red Cross hosts a central mailing address for anyone to send cards to soldiers that are unable to be with their families during the holiday season. They provide approximately two million cards to veterans, military families and active duty service members around the world at various hospitals and other installations. The goal is to provide a little bit of home to those who can’t be home.
This year, three Fannin County citizens, Cortney Turner, Tammy Kinman and Melissa Griffin began the project on a localized level and agreed to pay the costs of shipping the cards for those who were willing to sign them. With only two weeks of effort, they were able to collect 2,028 cards.
“Our initial goal was 500 cards”
“but we met that goal in just a couple days and decided to shoot for 1,000”
she continued. As the cards continued to pile in, the trio continued to increase the goal with no idea that they would end up with more than quadruple their first goal.
“When I saw the post on Facebook, I was moved and it hit me and I thought to myself why would I not want to do that”
Turner told FYN. Kinman has a son in the reserves who has recently completed basic training and AIT was moved by the outpouring of support from her family, friends, coworkers and customers. That’s right…customers! Kinman gathered up a basket of cards and asked each customer if they would like to sign a card for a soldier while she rang their order up. Her son, Matthew, who is the service member mentioned earlier, spent a few hours at her store asking customers if they would like to sign a card for his fellow comrades. With being in uniform, no one had the heart to tell him no. When asked what her thoughts were about the outcome, Kinman said
“I’m humbled by the action taken by our community”.
The cards were given, primarily from individuals that saw the posts in groups on Facebook but two classes participated. Mrs. Young’s first grade class at Blue Ridge Elementary school and Mrs. Hicks’ kindergarten class at West Fannin Elementary school helped with the project with requests from parents that wanted to participate. Epworth Boy Scout Troop 507 made some cards. A couple of local churches, including the Blue Ridge First Baptist Church and The Ridge Community Church helped. Businesses that contributed to this cause included Milestones Learning Center and Family Crisis Center Thrift Store in Blue Ridge. Turner, Kinman and Griffin would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support in helping make the holiday season a little brighter for those serving our country.
The over 2K cards have been shipped to the American Red Cross and will arrive in time to meet the deadline. Next year, the trio has bigger plans for the project and plan to start as early as August. Keep an eye out for this project next year and sign a card for a soldier.