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2.5 million cards and counting: Operation Write Home reaches U.S. troops worldwide
Sandy Allnock founded Operation Write Home to help overseas military personnel do just that — send cards to their loved ones.
Every day, the organization ships hundreds of handmade greeting cards for all holidays and occasions, along with cards of gratitude, across the world.
As of this week, Operation Write Home has sent 2.5 million cards and counting.
Allnock's home in Federal Way is the hub and headquarters. Each day, the mail carrier delivers three dolly loads of cards that arrive from all over the U.S.
Allnock boxes and ships those cards to servicemen and women in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Jordan, Spain and Cuba. The Republic of Djibouti in Africa was recently added to her list.
During the peak holiday season, Allnock works 16-hour days as the Christmas deadline approaches. However, the project requires a year-round effort, and several volunteers assist Allnock.
"There's no plan to stop until the troops are all home and don't need us anymore," she said. "As long as there's a need, we plan to continue."
The project has grown significantly during the past year. In August, Allnock quit her job as a graphic designer at World Vision in order to work full time on Operation Write Home. Dozens of boxes are stacked in Allnock's garage, and she recently combined two bedrooms to create one large studio for the project.
In the meantime, Allnock will focus on raising money through donations and grants to make the non-profit organization financially sustainable.
The project started in 2007. As an avid crafter, Allnock teamed up with her friends to send extra handmade cards to U.S. soldiers after hearing about a Texas woman who had done the same.
Today, Allnock routes the cards to nearly 200 military contacts who represent groups as small as a 30-soldier platoon to as large as an entire crew aboard a ship at sea. Cards also reach civilian workers who are deployed. Operation Write Home encourages children to write "AnyHero" letters that include drawings.
Allnock hopes to someday see Federal Way or the school district devote a day toward crafting and sending cards to troops. For now, she will continue nurturing a labor of love that's guided by faith.
"I kind of took that flying leap off the cliff," she said about quitting her job to focus on Operation Write Home. "I'm excited to see what the next thing is going to be."
To learn more about Operation Write Home, visit operationwritehome.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website includes guidelines and information. Mail your handmade greeting cards or letters of gratitude for U.S. soldiers to Operation Write Home, 35205 13th Place SW, Federal Way, WA 98023.