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More than 12,000 valentine greetings were sent to overseas troops in 2020 as part of Operation Valentine’s Day.
More than 12,000 valentine greetings were sent to overseas troops in 2020 as part of Operation Valentine’s Day. (TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — Jeremy and Claire McIntire are launching the 3rd Annual Operation Valentines Day to collect valentines for troops deployed overseas.

Valentines are being collected at Stow (Ohio) City Hall from now through Jan. 29.

“Receiving greetings from people back home is very important for our service members,” said Jeremy McIntire. “Troops can often find themselves going days or even weeks without hearing from a loved one. There is no better feeling than coming back from a mission and finding that you received mail.”

He is an Iraq war veteran, Purple Heart recipient and serves as president of Stow City Council.

“The response from the community has been amazing over the last two years,” said Claire McIntire. “It’s wonderful to see people come together to support our troops, we have already had people send valentines to be included.”

Schools, churches, organizations, retirement facilities and individuals are encouraged to create valentines with messages to the troops.

Stow residents Claire and Jeremy McIntire display some of the thousands of valentines sent to troops as part of their annual Operation Valentine's Day. Jeremy is an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Valentines are being collected at Stow (Ohio) City Hall until Jan. 29.
Stow residents Claire and Jeremy McIntire display some of the thousands of valentines sent to troops as part of their annual Operation Valentine's Day. Jeremy is an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Valentines are being collected at Stow (Ohio) City Hall until Jan. 29. (TNS)

Participants are asked to adhere to the following guidelines when creating valentines:

—Send a handwritten letter, note or handmade card. Soldiers feel extra special when they receive handmade, individually created valentines. Envelopes are not required.

—Keep your cards to a size of 8½ inches by 11 inches or under for ease in shipping and distribution.

—Cards cannot include glitter, food or candy, but there are still many ways to personalize a handmade card. Write a message to them and say, “Thank You,” tell them about yourself and wish them a Happy Valentine Day. “The troops are away from their loved ones and friends, so they really want to know that people back home appreciate them,” said the McIntires. “We know our service men and women appreciate receiving the cards each year.”

—Military personnel love to communicate with others. You can include your school, church or organization name, address and/or email contact on each card so recipients can write back. Cards from children/students must include a first name only. If you do not receive a reply from a service member, do not be discouraged. Remember: The troops are busy.

—Photos of the sender, sender’s family, church, or classroom participants can add a personal touch to your card.

—Keep your messages positive. Start with a salutation, such as “Dear Hero” or “ Dear Brave One.” All cards will be screened. Do not put individual valentines in sealed envelopes. Bundle cards and send in a single large envelope or box containing all of the valentines.

To arrange pickup of valentines from schools, churches, businesses and retirement homes in Stow, contact Jeremy McIntire at mcintireforstow@gmail.com; or Claire McIntire at claireamcintire@gmail.com.

Individuals can drop off their valentines through Jan. 29 in a drop box located at the front desk in the Stow City Hall atrium, 3760 Darrow Road, Stow (driveway is located off Graham Road) Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

An additional collection box will be located at 1904 Baker Lane, Stow.

On its website, the United States Post Office explains the importance of military mail: “More than 1.4 million Americans serve in the military, with about 200,000 of those troops serving overseas. Members of the armed forces can feel isolated while deployed, often in dangerous conditions. The military discovered long ago that mail boosts the morale of troops serving in other parts of the world, so it has made military mail a high priority. Military mail provides members of the armed forces with a vital link to their communities. Mail call is the moment when the front line and home front connect.”

When this campaign was launched in 2020, it was anticipated to receive 1,000 - 2,000 valentines; to the McIntires’ surprise, the campaign collected over 12,000 valentines for the troops.

“We cannot think of a better holiday to let someone know you are thinking of them than Valentine’s Day,” said Jeremy McIntire. “Please join Claire and I to help bring smiles to the brave men and women serving overseas by sending them a valentine.”

©2022 www.beaconjournal.com.

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