Red Cross, Pitney Bowes team up

There's still a way to send holiday greetings to injured members of the military, even though the Pentagon and the Postal Service have refused to deliver mail addressed to "Any Wounded Soldier" because of security and morale concerns.

The American Red Cross and mail-stream technology company Pitney Bowes Inc. have teamed up to make sure wounded armed services members get cards and notes, even if not specifically addressed to them.

Pitney Bowes Government Solutions is screening all mail to make sure it's not dangerous, and Red Cross and community volunteers will open each card to make sure it doesn't include a demoralizing message.

Then the cards will be sent to men and women recovering at military hospitals in the U.S. and five combat zones, said Devorah Goldburg, senior officer at American Red Cross National Headquarters.

"We have 30,000 to 35,000 pieces of mail already that we're going to be sorting through this weekend," Goldburg said.

Matthew Broder, vice president of external communications at Pitney Bowes, expects the number to skyrocket as the program gets more media attention.

Mail should be postmarked by Dec. 24 to be delivered in time for the holidays, Goldburg said. Anything received after Dec. 27 will not be accepted.

Gloria Parker, principal of College Park Elementary School in Ladson, said she

hopes handmade cards from some of her students will be among those sent to the wounded.

"I don't know that everyone would do it, but I do think we can get some cards done," she said. The school has about 800 students.

"I think (military personnel) probably do enjoy getting things from kids. I'm sure they're families, first of all," Parker said.

For security reasons, only cards and notes will be accepted, Goldburg said. Correspondence should not include glitter or any inserts that wouldn't be appropriate for a hospital environment. Several cards may be sent in one large envelope or even a small box. Senders should include a return address and write on the packaging, "multiple cards included," Goldburg said.