The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Western Kentucky chapter of the American Red Cross’ 12th annual Christmas Cards for Veterans project is well underway.
“We’ve already received about 2,000 cards,” Judy Peters, the CVB’s visitor services director, said Tuesday. “And people are calling every day.”
Last year, that office collected 9,796 cards for veterans in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
That was up from slightly more than 8,000 in 2016 and 5,683 the year before.
The Red Cross also gets cards delivered at its offices from schools and other organizations.
Evelyn Miller, executive director of the local Red Cross, said the total number of cards collected between the two agencies topped more than 11,140 last year.
The program began in the fall of 2007 and has continued to salute the region’s elderly veterans every year.
Karen Miller Porter, who was executive director of the CVB at that time, said the idea came from several people who were discussing the Owensboro’s Veterans Day Parade that year.
It was a shame, someone said, that so many veterans were getting old and ill and unable to attend.
From that conversation, Christmas Cards for Veterans was born.
The CVB partners with the Red Cross to get the Christmas cards to area veterans in senior living facilities and nursing homes.
The tourism agency collects the cards, and the Red Cross delivers them to military facilities, veterans homes, hospitals and military family support groups in the region.
Miller said the deadline for turning the cards in is Dec. 14.
People can bring cards to the CVB office, 215 E. Second St., between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
They should write personal notes inside the cards, sign them and address the envelopes to “Honored Veteran,” “American Hero” or “Dear Service Member, Family or Veteran.”
The cards do not need postage because they will be delivered.
Each card to be sent to a veteran should be signed by an individual or group of people and may include a personal message of thanks.
Miller said Club Red, a group of eight to 10 high school students, will help deliver the cards this year.
She said that last year, RSVP members helped with the cards, and two members of that organization later signed up as Red Cross volunteers.
One man has already been to Florida and is now in California helping with those disasters, Miller said.
“Today, his nephew left for California on his first volunteer trip with us,” she said. “That all came as a result of the Christmas card program.”