Colorful cards keep troops in contact with their families
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
It’s a really good feeling that they’re enjoying it. Some of them are in remote areas and they’re not near a place where they get a greeting card or a piece of paper and a pen to write a family member.” – Charly Mathews, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Cards for Soldiers Program Founder
A Grayling woman who relocated to the community to live full-time this summer is seeking help keeping soldiers connected with their families as they continue to fight the global war on terrorism.
Charly Mathews launched the program called Cards for Soldiers in 2005 when her husband, Michael, was deployed with the U.S. Air Force to Afghanistan.
The program involves making handmade cards for the soldiers to send home to their loved ones.
Matthews, who is also a U.S. Air Force veteran, was dealing with a medical issue when she started sending packages of cards to the troops.
“All I could do was sit,” Mathews said. “From there it just kept going.”
Mathews’ niece, Christina Martin, who also served in the U.S. Air Force, handed out cards to airmen flying in Afghanistan while they were refueling their planes and would take them to be mailed.
A military commander learned of the program, and packages of cards were delivered to troops serving in remote areas of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
“It takes him three months to complete the full circuit,” Mathews said.
Since the beginning, thousands of cards have been shipped to troops serving the nation. The project has linked with Desert Angels, which provides care packages called Miracle Boxes to soldiers serving overseas.
Cards are also sent to the United Service Organization (USO) Yokosuka and USO Okinawa for its Operation Birthday program, which provides a birthday cake to sailors when their ships come into port.
Matthews uses proceeds from her home businesses Stampin’ Up and Party Lite to mail boxes of cards overseas. She teaches card-making classes, and those enrolled are encouraged to donate the cards they make to Cards for Soldiers.
Donations come in from throughout the world to help support the program. Card stock, envelopes, and pens are donated by craft stores and office supply businesses.
“We always make sure we put a pen in there because no matter where they are, they can just start writing,” Mathews said.
Greeting cards from stores are mixed in with the handmade cards.
“I know everyone has cards that are sitting there doing nothing,” Mathews said.
Mathews is seeking help from school students and community organizations to write hand written messages in the cards, packing the cards in bags, and shipping boxes.
“I’m trying to enlist help from wherever I can get it,” she said.
Wives of soldiers say they have received more communication from their spouses compared to previous deployments through the Cards for Soldiers program.
“It’s a really good feeling that they’re enjoying it,” Mathews said. “Some of them are in remote areas and they’re not near a place where they get a greeting card or a piece of paper and a pen to write a family member.”
Children appreciate getting cards from their parents completing their service for the country.
“The kids are just tickled pink because they get birthday cards and missing you cards from their dads,” Mathews said. “The kids just love them.”
Mathews will soon begin offering card-making classes classes at the Hobby Lobby in Gaylord. She can be reached by calling (586) 995-1963 or via e-mail at http://www.stampinup.net/esuite/home/cardsforsoldiers/.