By Meghan Keator
The Red Cross Club hosted one of their first, and largest, events, “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” on Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Reamer Campus Center. The event aimed to encourage students and staff alike to make holiday cards for Armed Forces members, veterans and their families.
Aarifa Gowani ’17 founded the Red Cross Club this year as a way to give back to the community and to continue inspiring fellow students to do the same. Lusia Posada ’17, who helped Gowani table for this event, summarized her thoughts about the event: “For such a small cost, this event made a big difference.”
Using colored construction paper, a plethora of crayons and a sprinkle of creativity, students created cards that held a message of holiday cheer, optimism and, most importantly, appreciation.
The completed cards were collected by the Red Cross Club and will be mailed by early December to the Red Cross Organization, which will, in turn, sort and ship the cards to multiple deployment locations overseas and to families of service members back home.
To many individuals who participated in this creative event, the overall atmosphere was inspirational and as Gowani phrased it, “memorable.”
While students worked on their festive cards, one special guest stopped by to share the positive impact that this event generated for service members stationed all over the world.
Capt. Joseph Goodrich, who was tabling for the Marines directly across from the Holiday Heroes event, walked over and thanked the individuals who stopped and took the time to make a card.
Having been deployed overseas to Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, Goodrich was a recipient of many of these holiday cards. After looking over some of the cliché, yet funny, sayings that students wrote on the front of their cards, Goodrich smiled and acknowledged that “they might be cheesy, but they are the best thing in the world.”
He continued to explain how receiving these cards while overseas made an impactful difference for him, as each reminded him of his family back home and the generosity, kindness and support that can stem from communities all across the nation.
When remembering the long amount of time spent overseas and away from his family, Goodrich also recalled the cards as having one of the largest optimistic impacts on him.
Sharing stories about his many months away from home, Goodrich opened up about the power behind each card and how “these cards give you a purpose and a reason as to why you’re there.”
The various cards allowed him to eradicate feelings of loneliness and despondency.
It reassured him that his military service, as well as the personal sacrifices that arise from this path, is important and is appreciated by the communities he fights for and protects.
Honored by the kind and inspirational words written by others, Goodrich further emphasized the cards’ meaningfulness, as to him, “receiving a card is better than receiving food.”
Students embraced the challenge of tapping into their artistic sides to participate in this card-crafting activity.
Not only did crafting cards provide students with a therapeutic coloring session to ease some of their post-midterm stress, but the activity also gave them the surprising insight into how one person’s small act of kindness could have a significant impact on someone else.
Iseinie Mendez ’17, who participated in both running the table and making cards, shared how the event opened up her heart.
Mendez and Gowani commented that it was meaningful to witness Capt. Goodrich’s joy and pure appreciation for the cards and the event itself.
To these students, the event had a rewarding and eye-opening affect, as it allowed each person to do something important and directly make a difference — a difference that was seen firsthand by Goodrich’s stories and gratitude.
Gowani remarked, “The more cards, the better!”
The event fostered the idea that even the smallest acts of showing gratitude, such as making a handmade card for members of the armed forces, can create a long-term, positive impact on people who find the most inspiration and happiness in these simple and kind acts.