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Spreading the holiday cheer, one troop at a time

Eleven-year-old, with help of her school, sends 3,000 cards overseas

Posted: December 21, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: December 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Rosedell Elementary School student Emily Hood, 11, stuffs holiday cards with candy canes in a box to be shipped to one of many U.S. platoons worldwide. Emily, with the help of students on campus, made 3,000 cards this year.

Rosedell Elementary School student Emily Hood, 11, knows how to spread Christmas cheer to those far away from home.

For the past two years running, Hood has made holiday greeting cards for United States military troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Some troops don't have family or friends to send them mail for the holidays," Hood said. "At least those who receive a card that I write will know that someone cares."

Hood started the mission in 2007, making a total of 638 Christmas cards.

The following year, Hood raised her goal to 1,508 cards and had them sent to individual troops stationed overseas.

But Hood wasn't ready to give up on setting her goals of sending a special holiday message to as many troops as possible.

This year, Hood accomplished a total of 3,000 cards and shipped them out to various platoons worldwide.

"I like to think that the troops feel loved and cared about when they receive one of my cards," Hood said.

The idea to spread this holiday cheer came to Hood through the National Society of the Children of the American Revolution, the nation's oldest and largest patriotic youth organization.

Chartered in 1895, the group gathers young individuals who are lineally descended from someone who rendered material aid to the cause of American Independence as a soldier, sailor, civil officer or recognized patriot.

Her membership helped Hood reach the troops in her own way.

But Hood knows it doesn't take much for other people to send their own holiday spirit.

"The cards I make are just the basic ones you can pick up at a stationary store. It's the inside message that makes them special," Hood said. "I usually write messages that tell them, ‘Thank you for serving our county. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.' I think it helps them a lot."

But Hood wasn't the only one to get involved in making the cards this year.

Around the time of Veterans Day and again near Sept. 11, Hood's teachers passed out holiday card materials to classrooms on the elementary school campus to spread Hood's cheer even farther.

Cards were created by rooms full of kindergarten through sixth-grade students, who added their own special messages for the troops at Christmas time.

"I had a lot of help from everyone this year," Hood said. "For next time, I am working on my own design to send even more troops. I plan on doing this every year."

Through an organization called "Adopt a U.S. Soldier" Hood received the addresses of nine different servicemen of high rank in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Three thousand cards were sent to the platoons, where the high-ranking officer will disperse the cards to each troop with holiday wishes and prayers from back home.

In addition, Hood also sent 300 Christmas cards with candy canes to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American hospital serving U.S. military personnel and their families in Europe.

But Hood's goals will increase next year when she plans to create 6,000 cards for troops and enlist the help of more people in the community.

"It is important for people to help because it makes us aware of the sacrifice these service men and women make," Hood said.

"There are so many of them that need our support, especially at Christmas when they are away from their families. We must appreciate all of their hard work."


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