Written by Douglas Edwin   
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00

At the recent lighting of the state of Illinois’ Christmas tree, Governor Pat Quinn launched the annual Illinois Heroes Holiday Card Drive. 

Joined by local students at the lighting, Governor Quinn encouraged students from across the state to join in the annual drive by making holiday cards for service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Governor Quinn will personally deliver the cards to the troops when he visits the center later this month. 

“The Illinois Heroes Holiday Card Drive is about making sure that our service members receive a warm reminder of how much we love and support them,” Governor Quinn said of the program. “We can never thank our soldiers enough for the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe and secure our freedom. Though great distances may separate us, they will never be far from our hearts and they are always in our prayers.”

For the previous eight years Governor Quinn visited Illinois troops and their families for Christmas at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, which is the largest American hospital outside of the United States. With the recent drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan many service members have returned to the United States, so Governor Quinn will be visiting the WRNMMC in Maryland this year. 

Erica Borggren, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director, was also at the lighting ceremony and encouraged students to participate in the program as well. 

“Holidays spent away from home are just one of the many sacrifices our service members make to protect us.” Director Borggren said. “While we want to do everything we can to support them throughout the year, we know it means so much for a service member to receive a ‘touch of home’ during the holidays to let them know how much they are appreciated. As we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the holiday season, we encourage the people of Illinois to keep our service members in their thoughts and prayers.”

While this program is more specifically for grade school students, cards from anyone are encouraged through other programs. 

Through the Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program, people of all ages can make and send cards to service members. Only cards will be accepted, no letters. Generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member” should be used for the cards. Cards should not include home address or emails, photos, or glitter (as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured soldiers).

The Illinois Heroes Holiday Card Drive adds to the many programs that Governor Quinn has started to benefit and support current service members as well as veterans. In November Governor Quinn announced the newest Veterans Cash lottery ticket, which is a $2 instant ticket with 100% of the proceeds from it going to Illinois veterans’ organizations. 

Since launching the program in 2006, Veterans Cash has awarded more than $11 million in grants to more than 210 veterans’ organizations statewide. 

For more information on the Illinois Heroes Holiday Card drive and other ways you can help and show support for Illinois service members and veterans, you can visit http://operationhomefront.org/ .

Cards for the Illinois Heroes Holiday Card Drive can be sent to: 

Office of Governor Pat Quinn

Att: Holiday Cards to Troops Program

James R. Thompson Center

100 West Randolph Street, Suite 16-100

Chicago, IL 60601

Cards for the Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program can be sent to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 14:38
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