NEO Red Cross collecting supplies to support military service members and veterans in need this holiday season

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist,American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Communications volunteer.

This holiday season, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is teaming up with the Ohio Troop and Family Assistance Center (TFAC) to provide supplies to military families and veterans in need.

During the holiday season, to give thanks to our military for everything they do for us each day, the Red Cross is collecting toiletries and paper goods. The TFAC has a “pantry”/ “care room” at the North Canton National Guard Armory but supports all 22 counties of the Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Region. The pantry is in need of feminine products, diapers (all sizes), laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and men’s razors. It is recommended that items be smaller in size but not trial size

The Red Cross has a long history of assisting military service members, their families and veterans. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, risked her life during the Civil War to bring supplies to soldiers in the fields. This service and the continued need to support and protect the sick and wounded during wartime led Clara to establish the Red Cross in 1881.This commitment to the military and those in need in times of conflict and humanitarian crises led to the Red Cross receiving a congressional charter in 1905 to fulfill provisions of the Geneva Conventions. These responsibilities are to provide family communications and other forms of support to the U.S. military and to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief. Despite this close relationship with the federal government, the Red Cross is an independent nonprofit that does not receive federal funding.

Today, the Red Cross continues our strong commitment to our service members, their families and veterans, which began with Clara on the battlefields. Service to the Armed Forces remains one of our five service areas. From the first day of enlistment, service members and their families are eligible for Red Cross assistance. Every day, the American Red Cross provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support in military and veteran healthcare facilities across the country and around the world. Some of the services the Red Cross provides are helping to cope with deployment, delivering verified messages during emergencies at home, keeping in touch with military families and informing them that help is always available, helping find access to financial assistance, providing information and referral services and assisting with veterans appeals, building skills for successful reintegration and much more. 

If you are interested in donating items to military members, their families and veterans in need in Northeast Ohio, Red Cross chapter locations in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria, New Philadelphia,Wooster and Youngstown are accepting donations. Donated items will be delivered to TFAC pantry. You can find the addresses to each drop-off location by visiting the locations page at redcross.org/neo.

A Twist on a Holiday Classic

As in years past, we will begin collecting cards for our annual program – Holidays for Heroes. But this year, there is a new twist. We are hoping to collect cards that can be sent to service members, veterans and their families for EVERY HOLIDAY OVER THE COURSE OF THE COMING YEAR! That means Christmas and Chanukah cards, yes, but we are really hoping to get a large number of generalized cards of thanks that can be used for any occasion!

These cards are extremely touching to service members, veterans and their families. That is why we ask that you concentrate on providing a meaningful message in each card you write – even if that means you send in four cards instead of forty.

We will also be collecting new, small items to donate to the VA:

  • Blank greeting cards (not sealed); with a forever postage stamp for service members to use for their own correspondence
  • Combs/ brushes
  • Deodorant (roll-on/spray)
  • Disposable razors
  • Hand lotion
  • Shaving cream
  • Soap
  • White socks
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Adult coloring books
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • DVD movies
  • Large print: Sudoku, word search, crossword books
  • Low vision playing cards
  • Puzzles
  • Checkers/chess

The five chapters in Northeast Ohio are collecting the items and cards for local distribution to service members, their families, and veterans through area VA service locations, VFWs, and other military organizations. The cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

A few rules:

  • The Red Cross does not provide cards to sign. Instead, please feel free to make cards or use any favorites that you have on hand.
  • In order to make cards as meaningful as possible for a wide audience, we recommend that you use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member,/Veteran/ Military Family Member” when writing the cards.
  • Please, no personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses
  • Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and the glitter could aggravate existing health issues.
  • Please do not seal in individual envelopes. It is easier for our volunteers to screen and sort the cards if they aren’t individually sealed in envelopes.
  • Individual cards can be dropped off or mailed to the Red Cross chapters in a large envelope or mailing box.
  • We ask that people not enclose any items with the holiday cards. Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed, including photos and other gifts. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.
  • Chapters cannot accept cards after November 30– we still need time for our volunteers to sort and deliver!

You can mail cards, or drop cards and items off (between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.) to the following locations:

Greater Cleveland Chapter
3747 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter
244 West South Street
Wooster, OH 44691

Elyria Office
2929 West River Rd. N.
Elyria, OH 44035

Mansfield Office
39 N. Park Street
Mansfield, OH 44902

 Lake to River Chapter
3530 Belmont Avenue
Suite 7
Youngstown, OH 44505

Jefferson County Office
81 Talbott Drive
Wintersville, OH 43953

Stark County & Muskingum Lakes Chapter
408 9th Street, SW
Canton, OH 44707

Muskingum Lakes Office
1451 4th St. NW
New Philadelphia, OH 44663

 Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter
501 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44303

How can you get involved in the Holiday Mail program beyond mailing a card?

Word of Mouth: Host a card signing party as part of your Thanksgiving Celebration!

Social Media: Connect with fellow card senders through social media channels and help us get the word out through Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #holidaymail.

Help Sort and Deliver Cards: If you are interested in helping sort and deliver cards, please contact Jessica Tischler at 216-426-7525 to see how you can help.