More than 1,200 servicemen and servicewomen received Christmas cards from people they have never met thanks to a project organized by Elizabeth resident Suzy MacKenzie.
MacKenzie, owner and operator of equine therapy program at Eagles Nest Ranch, said a movie inspired her to begin the program to gather Christmas cards and send them to military personnel overseas.
“Four years ago I saw the movie `The Christmas Card' that is about how a greeting card seat to a soldier in Afghanistan changed his life. The movie got me to thinking that if a Christmas card can brighten the day of a member of the military, why can't we start a program like that here in Elizabeth?” said MacKenzie. “Four years ago, I decided to start the Christmas Cards for the Troops program. I talked to friends and people who came to the ranch. We collected, addressed and sent out about 200 cards that year.”
She said it became an annual project and about 300 cards were sent out each of the next two years.
The program asked individuals or organizations to buy or make Christmas cards and sign them. The card sender was also encouraged to write a brief message to the serviceman or servicewoman receiving the card.
She said each year when the cards are collected, she and the volunteers go to the website www.AnySoldier.com which is an organization that provided the addresses for the cards to the many program sending out cards.
“This year things really took off,” MacKenzie said. “Friends like Gayle Lucas helped promote the program as did a number of Elizabeth businesses. The result was a lot more cards than we expected. On Dec. 2 we gathered volunteers and Elizabeth American Legion Post 82 let us use their hall so we could spend the evening addressing and stamping the 1,212 envelopes going out to troops stationed all over the world. This year we sent cards to military personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Norway, Italy, Kosovo, Bahrain and those serving aboard ships.”
She said she knows the cards are getting to the troops because the first year she got a letter from a soldier in Afghanistan telling how much the cards meant to all the guys in his unit that received them.”
“When we were addressing the cards, an active duty Air Force sergeant came by to drop off the cards from him and his family,” she said. “He told us he served overseas and that so many men and women in his unit never received any mail. He and a number of people in his unit received Christmas cards from a program like us and he told us about how much receiving those cards meant to everyone who received them.”
She said the comments from the airman proved to be the highlight of the evening and encouraged her to plan to continue the program next year, when even more Christmas greetings from Elizabeth and other Colorado communities can go out to those stationed overseas in defense of our country.
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