Special events and activities that honor military troops and veterans will take place throughout the Capital Region this month.
Opportunities range from a Christmas Eve march to sending cards filled with good wishes.
The American Red Cross, Northeastern New York Region, has already gathered about 51,000 signed holiday greeting cards to send to troops, and hopes to push that figure even higher.
A special greeting, even one from a stranger, can mean a lot to a service member who is away from home and family at the holidays, said spokeswoman Jaime Watson.
“It’s just nice to know that they are being thought of at home and that people care,” she commented. “It just goes a long way to show our support.”
The Red Cross held its last card-signing event for the season on Tuesday, but those who would still like to send a greeting to a member of the armed forces can mail a card to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, Md., 20791-5456.
Cards must be postmarked by Friday.
Wreaths at graves
Volunteers are being sought to place donated wreaths at more than 9,000 grave sites at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville at noon on Saturday, Dec. 14.
This will be the second year Bob Van Pelt, president of the Capital District chapter of the Association of the United States Army, will participate in the event. Laying a wreath on the grave of a soldier is an honor, he said. “It lets the veterans and also their families know that we still care,” he commented.
Volunteers can register online at the Wreaths Across America website: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org or by contacting Anita Martin at 225-0442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wreath sponsors are also needed. Wreaths are $15 each and can be paid for on the website.
On Dec. 21, WWII veterans, especially those with ties to D-Day, are invited, along with their families, to attend the D-Day Revisited Old Time Christmas Songs and Party from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Blanchard American Legion Post, 16 West Poplar Dr., Delmar.
The free event will include live music and refreshments. Reservations are required by Dec. 14. They can be made by calling 439-9265 or 426-4350.
At 9 a.m. on Dec. 24, New York Army National Guard soldiers, families, friends and supporters will march in the 10th annual Christmas Eve Road March to honor military troops and their families.
The 3.2-mile march, which starts and ends at the Glens Falls Civic Center, drew over 1,000 participants last year, according to Julie Coon, who helps to organize the event.
“It’s become a feel-good thing. Everybody wants to do something for soldiers and the military who can’t be home,” she said.
Anyone is invited to march in the parade, or simply watch from the sidelines.
Nonperishable snacks, personal hygiene supplies and other items appropriate for care packages will be collected at the Civic Center during the event and mailed out to troops at a future date.
At holiday time, the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany opens its doors to many volunteers who visit with patients unable to be home for the holidays. Volunteer visitors are always welcome, but are most needed both before and after the holidays, said spokesman Peter Potter.
To schedule a visit, contact Jim Keller at 626-5506.
Reach Gazette reporter Kelly de la Rocha at 395-3040 or email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @KellydelaRocha.