While most American kids are busy deciding which Halloween costume to wear this year — Stranger Things or Star Wars? — the Scouts in the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council have flipped their calendars forward by two months.
Yes, they’re already working on holiday cards.
But there’s a good reason for this extra-early start to the holiday season. Every year, the council partners with the American Red Cross and Department of Veterans Affairs to send hand-signed holiday cards to men and women serving in the armed forces.
“The cards and their personal messages provide a welcome touch of home for our troops during the holidays,” says Jeff Rudner, the volunteer who chairs the annual service project.
Here’s how it works.
Thanks to a generous donor, the Western Los Angeles County Council has printed 10,000 holiday cards.
Next, the council enlists Scouts, their families and even Scouts’ schoolmates to write a personal note inside each card. (Side note: Inviting schoolmates to help with fun, impactful service projects like this is a terrific passive recruiting idea.)
Scouts are encouraged to include a heartfelt message of thanks, a drawing or a simple phrase like “we are proud of you.”
Just pause for a moment to consider the impact coming from this council alone. That’s 10,000 individual messages for the women and men who are serving our country while we enjoy the holidays with friends and family at home.
“This will be no easy task,” Rudner says. “But this is certainly the least we can do as we remind our Scouts of the sacrifices and risks that our military service members take in order to contribute to our nation’s freedom and safety.”
This year’s card features an awesome photo of Scouts and leaders participating in an on-field flag ceremony at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (I took you behind the scenes of that day in this post from August.)
Take a look at the card below.
Now it’s your turn
Interested in sending holiday cards from your pack, troop or crew? Contact your council to see if there’s an existing program in place.
If not, find your nearest VA location, contact your local Red Cross office or participate in this effort from the United Soldiers and Sailors of America.
Note: Because collecting, inspecting and sending the cards takes weeks, most programs have a deadline in late October or early November.
And remember that there are plenty of heroes closer to home, too. Take time during the holidays to thank first responders, reservists, teachers and military veterans.