Saturday, September 25, 2010

Operation Write Home

Ok, I'm adding ONE MORE THING!  This is one of those totally optional deals and one I hope will be very attractive to our cardmakers out there.  Ok... you scrapbookers, too!

I found this foundation on Facebook and I've been following them ever since.  This place is wonderful.  In a nutshell, they collect "handmade only" cards from anyone who wants to send them and then they ship them to military units assigned overseas.  A lot of times, the troops do not have any access to a Hallmark store, so Operation Write Home ensures they always have an ample supply of cards to use and send to loved ones.  This has just tugged at my heart and I am actually fighting tears as I write this.  It's something that never occurred to me that might be a deficit (however, I am sure this is not the only thing, it's just something that really touched me... particularly since I have so many cards just laying around my house!)

Anyway, I am challenging you (whoever you may be!) to make a few cards either before the retreat or during the retreat - it would be a great opportunity to bring some of those cards you have laying around taking up space!... just remember, they DO have to meet the guidelines outlined below. Just get them to me by 5pm Saturday night, October 10th, the last night of the retreat.  I have one single prize for the person who brings me the MOST cards.  I am also going to have a donation cup (to just drop some change in!) to help with shipping .  I'm hoping we will have so many I can't afford to mail them myself!!!

Be sure to visit the website to learn more about the organization.  It's really awesome what they do.  So simple and straightforward.  They also have a Facebook page... click HERE to visit that.  If you "LIKE" them, you will be amazed at the updates every day.  They share some great cards and challenge you to make them.  And sometimes, troops will leave message and actually let them know they are running low and need more!

They do have very strict guidelines for the cards (who knew glitter could make you visible to the enemy using night goggles?) and we want to comply.

I have copied those guidelines (in GREEN) here for your reference, too... (I have made comments, which are (RED).  Click HERE to visit the site with the guidelines.  (I will be sure and have a copy of these guidelines at the retreat for your referral)

Operation Write Home's Mission
To support our nation's armed forces by sending blank greeting cards to write home on, as well as cards of gratitude to encourage them. (note... BLANK... don't stamp the inside!  And if you use a dark card base, be sure to put a white liner inside as the troops don't have white pens!)

How it works
The simple version: you send your handmade cards to a shipper, they process them and ship them out!  You don't need to "sign up" or become a "member" or anything-just get started!

The basic guidelines:
  1. No glitter. Seriously. It's a hazard for our heroes, so we won't send cards with any glitter that will flake off the card. Read more.
  2. A2 sized cards. Most efficient for our shipping dollars, so we strongly recommend A2 (4.25" x 5.5" - half a sheet of cardstock). Read more.
  3. No storebought. Yep, pretty straightforward. Our heroes don't like them, so we send them our cards filled with love and creativity! Read more.
  4. Watch the deadlines. We have to mail cards 5-6 weeks ahead of a holiday, so check out the deadlines posted on our homepage, on the left side. Those are the very last last last dates, so aim for a couple weeks earlier if at all possible, since we start shipping 8 weeks ahead. (For Christmas cards, October 30 is the deadline, which is what I am going to go by... regardless of the types of cards we send... birthday, anniversary, get well, love you, miss you, whatever)
  5. Any quantity. One card to 100 to 500 - every card matters! We recommend emphasizing quality over quantity...relax, do your best, and pour lots of love into each card! 
  6. Packing Slip. Download this handy packing slip and write in your contact info and quantity-the shipper will be able to email you to let you know your cards arrived. If you haven't heard back you can also check the Thankful Thursday post each week to see if they've arrived. Our shippers get lots of packages every day, so please give them some grace in getting back to you. (I'll take care of the shipping and let you all know when they arrive in their hands)
Some additional things you may want to do that will help out our shippers:
  1. Stamp the backs of your cards. We put "Operation Write Home" on the back of every card so families at home know how their hero received such a work of art to write home on. You can order your own stamp, acrylic or self-inking; you can handwrite "Operation Write Home"; you can make a label; or have your own stamp made at your local office supply store. Listing your own information on the back of the card is fine, we just add OWH to it.  (If you can label your own cards, using labels I will have printed and there for you, I would REALLY appreciate it!)
  2. Sort your cards by theme. It's especially helpful if you note which cards are for a holiday; if we get a vast number of cards at once, we may need to just pull out the holiday ones right away to ship them, and we don't want to miss yours.
  3. Learn "the tuck." If you are including envelopes (some people prefer to include a donation for envelopes instead, and leave the labor to our shippers), the tuck is very helpful if your cards are already stamped. If they are not yet stamped, leave them entirely outside the envelopes. Check out the mailroom video below for more info on the tuck. (click HERE to visit the page with the video at the bottom... the video is awesome and really puts everything in perspective... plus is show the CARD HOSPITAL!)
  4. Include a donation. Small or large, cash or check, every bit helps! Please paperclip it to your Packing Slip to be sure your check doesn't sneak off to Afghanistan by accident.  (Whatever is left in donation cup will be sent along to help out!)
  5. Limit multiples. Some folks like to make a lot of one design. While that's fine, it becomes a biggg problem in one particular instance: holiday cards. If you want to make a lot of those (over 30), please send them 8 weeks ahead (or more). That allows us to mix them into the most boxes; we often end up with 100 of one design arriving the last week, and if most of those holiday boxes had already been sent in weeks prior, those multiples will have to wait til next year.
Remember... any number of cards are appreciated!  And if you don't have time to make cards, a couple of dollars in change in the donation cup will be equally appreciated!

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