The Edmond Sun

November 19, 2013

Sending love, 'Hugs' overseas

Here are some ways to aid troops during holidays

By Heather Moery
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — To help make this holiday season a little brighter, organizations in Oklahoma are doing their part to help men and women in uniform.

From now until Dec. 12, The Hugs Project in Oklahoma City will be accepting donations for the estimated 3,000 care boxes that will be sent to troops serving overseas this holiday season. Care boxes include food and hygiene products, as well as hats for the troops to give to children.

Karen Stark, co-founder and executive director of The Hugs Project, said the organization is mostly in need of beef jerky, men’s tube and crew socks, first aid creams, pretzels and Captain Crunch cereal.

Monetary donations are also in need. Stark said this year’s delivery will cost $42,000 in postage. To make a monetary donation, visit www.thehugsproject.com or mail donations to The Hugs Project, P.O. Box 30236, Midwest City, OK 73140.

Stark said the organization also needs volunteers of all ages to come help pack and decorate boxes and to write letters of love and support.

“Everyone wants to know they’re loved, especially at Christmastime,” Stark said.

Stark said if families know of someone serving overseas, contact The Hugs Project at 651-8359 in the afternoon or evening or visit their website and request a package and the organization will send one.

“No troop is overlooked at Christmastime if we can help it,” Stark said.

The Hugs Project is at 720 W. Wilshire Suite 105 in Oklahoma City and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Other local organizations are also helping the troops this season. At University of Central Oklahoma’s WinterGlow Celebration, those who attend the event at Nigh University Center on campus at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 6 will be able to write letters to the troops, which will benefit the Blue Star Mothers of America organization.

National organizations are also doing their part. From now until Dec. 6, the American Red Cross will be doing its 2013 Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Americans who wish to send a holiday card to a service member can mail them to Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. To ensure that cards are delivered in time for the holidays, cards must be postmarked no later than Dec. 6.

Individuals are asked to refrain from sending letters, monetary donations and other inserts with the cards. Individuals are asked not to use glitter as well. For more information about card requirements, visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail.

The American Red Cross invites the public to share photos and videos of their card signing efforts or their holiday greeting for troops using #HolidayMail on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine social media accounts. The organization will use the images on its social media sites throughout the season.

The American Red Cross also accepts financial donations. To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can contact the American Red Cross to set an appointment to donate blood as well.

In addition to helping during the holidays, YMCA organizations are celebrating Military Family Month in November by creating programs and opportunities that engage families of deployed military personnel, including respite childcare services available to eligible families and personnel to help give them extra support during deployments. Many youth development and healthy living programs are also available, such as youth sports and summer day camps.